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Monday, November 15, 1999 I talked with my mom this morning and she asked if we had any trips to the vet this weekend. I laughed. Yes!!

Last week, Ciara seemed to have a problem with one of her eyes and I put some Terramycin in it Thursday and Friday. Friday afternoon, Brian mentioned that it didn't look like it was getting better, so I called the vet and made an appointment for Saturday morning. I took her in and the vet looked at her eye. Sure enough, she has a scratch on the cornea. Probably from a kitten claw.

We find out today when mom's surgery is, what time we're supposed to be there. She's having a neighbor stay with her, but there may be a problem. The woman said "well, I can smoke in the bathroom." Now, first off, mom lives in a mobile home. And the ventilation isn't going to be that great at night when it's cold outside and the windows and doors are closed. I told mom that I would stay with her if there's going to be a problem. She really doesn't want me to leave Brian and the cats, but I don't want her to be anymore uncomfortable than she has to be and right now, smoke will bother her. I told her that maybe she would be sleeping because of the medication. That's something else, she's supposed to have medications and nobody has contacted her about what she needs. She was supposed to have them beforehand. Maybe I can do all of that tomorrow.

I'm making more of an effort to pet Jackie whenever I see him. He's not running so much, but I have to be careful not to move too quickly. This always startles him. He's getting better at just laying there and purring. Once he gets real relaxed, he even stretches out and offers up his tummy. I pet him very, very gently, barely touching him. He's so soft. He's the softest male cat we have. He does like having his face rubbed, too. I just hope we can mellow him out. I would like to have him more calm before I make his neutering appointment.

Saturday night when I went to bed, Peter followed me. He actually got onto the bed and settled in. I don't know how long he slept with us, but he was gone in the morning. He is the purringest kitten I ever remember. He purrs for everything.

Saturday afternoon, I pulled up the zucchini plants and the tomato plants. There's not much sun in the garden now. The pepper plants are doing well, though. The bell peppers are looking really good. Friday afternoon I noticed that one of the cayenne peppers was a bright red, so I picked it. Brought it in and showed it to Brian. He started to take a bite. I took it back from him, washed it and gave it back to him. He ate it. Took over a half hour, though. He said it was pretty hot, hotter than the jalapeños. He said his tongue was burning and so was his throat. A little while after he had finished it, he walked by me, stopped and gave me a big smooch. As soon as I realized what he was doing, I pushed him away. The bum was trying to share the heat. LOL!! He liked the pepper. I'm glad.

I received the final forms (I hope) for the trademark information on Saturday. Guess I should fill them out and get them out in the mail, along with my final (I hope) payment. We've also started working on the shopping cart. Friday, I got the information in the mail for the merchant account. If I don't get approved for that, it will put us behind, but I'll get one someplace.

I have a bunch of stuff I should get done today, so I won't be worried about it tomorrow. First thing is laundry, then I'll work on paperwork. I told Brian to not make plans where he will be hard to get a hold of tomorrow, in case something goes wrong. I'm just so nervous about the surgery. I really, really am. I know that it's not helping anything, but I can't help it. I don't think I'll be writing in here tomorrow, but I will get the camera up and running. So, say a little prayer for my mom that she comes through okay. Thanks.

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my mom and her dog

Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Oh, I'm tired this morning. I'm sore, too. Brian had to leave early, asked before 6:30 if I was going to exercise. I said I figured I should. So, we did. I didn't exercise yesterday morning, but my body is so sore today from all of the walking I did yesterday at the hospital.

An additional worry I had was my mom's state of mind. My mom's neighbor had called me Monday night to let me know that mom was sure that she had cancer throughout her system and that she was having a mastectomy. The neighbor asked if this was true and I told her straight out that I knew nothing of the sort. Once again, I was thinking, mom's imagination and worry had led her down the wrong path. I asked her why mom felt that she had cancer throughout and she said because mom said "she'd been so tired for the past year". *sigh* I knew I couldn't bring the conversation up with mom herself. I had to figure out how to assuage her fears without revealing the source.

I got up at six yesterday morning, let the cats out, got online and read my email, checked my forums. Then I took a shower and got dressed. I figured it was going to be on the warm side, so I wore shorts and a teeshirt, a sweatshirt, until it warmed up. I grabbed a backpack and put the latest pictures from Ranchita in there (four rolls), the latest Stephen King hardcover, the newspaper, the cell phone (which I had charged the day before) and my purse. I also brought my full water bottle. Brian made sure I got out the door early enough so that we wouldn't be late. I was at mom's at 7:45 and she was ready to go. The drive to the hospital was uneventful. Thankfully, most of the traffic was on the freeway. The road we were on used to be the main road, but now was only lightly travelled. I did get behind a stinky PureFlo water truck. I don't like breathing exhaust, but I held my tongue. This wasn't a time to start whining and getting mom upset. On the way, I found out that mom's neighbor, the same one who had called me the previous night, had also told mom's family back in Ireland. Mom had made it clear to me she didn't want to say anything to anybody until it was over. This irritated me a little. The neighbor has a big heart and a big mouth to go with it. She also spread the word to everybody in the little community where mom lives. Mom can be a private person. I just hope that people aren't constantly calling and bothering her with their well wishes. I understand that they are being nice, but mom needs to rest now, not entertain.

We got to the hospital a little after 8. Mom's check in time was 8:30, for the biopsy. I had been told that we were to check in on the first floor admitting. But her first appointment was for the biopsy. She said that was on the third floor. We went up to radiology and she said "oh, you need to check in on the first floor". So, back down we went. Mom got checked in, then we went to the office where the mammograms are done. We found out that this wasn't for a biopsy, but they needed to put wires in mom's breast so that the doctor knew where he was going during the surgery. And that they would put a lot of numbing medications there so it wouldn't hurt really bad. As other women came in, the conversations went on. It seems that no matter where I go, we always start talking. At least the time goes more quickly. A younger hispanic woman came in with a child still in diapers, but who was walking. Maybe four years old. When she was called in, she took her son with her, but he couldn't go in for her mammogram and boy, did he raise hell. He cried and screamed and yelled and the poor technicians ended up trying to entertain him. This put mom's appointment behind schedule, because the woman who was assigned to mom, was trying to calm the kid down. When the mom came out, she held her son and got him to stop crying. Then they brought her pictures out and she had to go down to the room where they did the sonograms. Oh, man, that's where they sent my mom after her first followup set of x-rays, after they had found something suspicious. This woman was so young. And I knew that her son wouldn't be happy down there either. Talking with my mom later, she told me that that office is crowded and she bet there were a lot of unhappy people, having to listen to this child.

Around 10:30, I was told that my mom was in the hallway and that I could go out to her and wait with her to be taken to surgery. She told me that what they had done was to position wires in her breast and she had to be careful. She said that since she was so small breasted and the lumps were so very small (I'm sure this made her feel better), they had a hard time getting them into position. At one point, they actually hit her breastbone. She told me that really hurt. She had on two gowns, one opening to the front, the other opening to the back. She had her blouse and brassiere in a plastic bag. I had her purse and paperwork. We were waiting for a wheelchair, and once it arrived, we would go up to pre-op. It didn't seem long. We got situated and we were told that we would be moved to a bed with a television in it. The man told mom she would have to lose one of the smocks as well as the rest of her clothing. She protested. "Let me keep me knickers on" she told him. He said they had to come off. She asked "why? they aren't working on anything there" and he said they still had to come off. I told her it was no big deal, everybody went in butt nekked, to just take them off like he asked. She didn't have anything the doctors had never seen before. She still didn't want to. He asked her how she would like to wake up with wet undies and she said she didn't care, she would "sign a paper". He said if there was an emergency, they would cut them off, then how would she feel? We finally got her to remove everything but the one smock, which she put into the bag they brought her. Soon, we were moved to the bed, where she would stay until they took her in. We watched a little television, luckily the news was on. One can only watch so much of Jenny Jones and her shows where "I was a nerd/geek/dork then, look at me now" was the theme. Mom hadn't seen the latest on the jet that went down, where they were thinking that it was possibly foul play and the FBI had been called in. We watched some other news, we talked a little. In the next bed over was a young black man. I guess he had to use the restroom and he walked away from us, holding the back of his gown closed. This really tickled mom, she started giggling, going into a full laugh. It also eased her a little more with her lack of undergarments. Nurses and aides kept coming by, asking questions, filling in forms. A technician came over with a cart and ran an EKG. A nurse came over and hooked mom up to an IV and took a vial of blood. When they put the needle in for the IV, oh, man, that was rough. I got kind of squeamish at that. I couldn't watch. Two women came over, breast cancer survivors. They gave me the bag for mom, the same kind of bag she had gotten from Mina the previous month. There was the little pillow and the video tape in it. One of them was a nine year survivor. As alone as you can be in a room like this, we talked quietly. I joked about her flashing a doctor, since she wasn't wearing her knickers. She laughed. We weren't sure yet whether or not mom would be under a local anesthetic or a general. If it was a general, she would have to take out her dentures. One of the anesthesist's (tough word) assistants came over and asked a bunch of questions about mom's history. This took a while. I had asked the nurse about mom's pain killers for after the operation. I didn't want to have to wait around for them after she was done, I just wanted to take her home. I had been with mom before when she had to get meds. Kaiser isn't the quickest in the world. The nurse sent the doctor over and I asked him about it. He wrote out the prescription and the nurse ran it over mom's Kaiser card and she handed the prescription to me. I put it in my back pocket. They told her she would be under a general. She was given a plastic container, where she placed her dentures and partial. An hour before she was scheduled for her surgery, they were ready. She was given a blue cap and they started the knockout drug. They put this big thing around her bed, put some straps through the spaces at the corners and sides and just lifted her up, mattress and all. She was all bundled up in the blankets and the blue hair cap and they wheeled her away. She looked so small and fragile and old and weak, this woman who had given me life, this woman who at times had been the bane of my existance, my enemy, now one of my best friends, my mother. The strongest person I had ever known was being taken away from me. I started to cry. I didn't want her to see me cry, and I tried very hard to stop. Then she was gone.

I was told that I could wait for her in the surgical waiting room. I gathered up all of the bags and my backpack and walked out to the elevators. I took out the cell phone and I called the neighbor who was supposed to let the dog out. He wasn't there to answer the machine, maybe he was at my mom's. I left a message. I called mom's neighbor who was going to be taking care of her to let her know that mom was in surgery, a full hour sooner than expected. I went down to the elevator. Found my way out of the building and over to the parking structure where I walked up the stairs to the second level. I got to the car and opened the trunk, trying to figure out what to take back with me. I took the paper and the pictures out of the backpack, keeping my book and water. I kept mom's plastic bag, the one she had gotten at radiology. I doubted that she would be needing her paperwork, so I left the bag with that in the trunk. I also removed my sweatshirt and put that into the trunk. I left mom's purse there because I didn't need anything out of it. Load considerably lightened, I closed the trunk and walked back into the hospital, this time looking for the pharmacy.

Once back inside, it wasn't too hard to figure out how the system worked. You wait in this line, give your prescription, then wait in another line to pick it up. I waited my turn and handed the woman the prescription form. She said "put the name and phone number in here" and handed me back the prescription form and a pen. I did as she requested, then waited on her to come back. I looked at the pen, it was one of those big ones with different colors of ink in it. It also had a handwritten label on it, "the lovely trish". She came back, I noticed her name. I said "so, you're the lovely Trish?" She looked up, surprised, started to laugh. I said "on the pen". She looked at it, obviously having forgotten the label. She told me to be seated, that the prescription should be up in about a half hour. I took a seat and looked around. They had an electronic board that has the list of names for the prescriptions that are ready. Then you go wait in another line to pick up the prescription and pay for it. I pulled out my book when a man asked if I minded if he sat next to me and we started to talk. (What did I say? Conversations abound in my presence.) It seems that he's from San Clemente, the Anaheim Kaiser is actually closer to him than the San Diego hospital, but he didn't like his doctor in Anaheim and he transferred down here. I told him this was my first Kaiser experience, belonging to Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He envied our ability to choose our own doctor, but he didn't envy our deductable. He has none. Mom pays five dollars a visit and five dollars per prescription. Yesterday cost her ten dollars. He's here to see a neurosurgeon. I don't ask why, if he wants me to know, he'll tell me. I told him that I met a woman earlier who had come all the way from Yuma. It seems there's no Kaiser in Arizona. The woman next to him asks him which doctor he's there to see. He says the name. She's seeing a neurosurgeon, too. They compare notes. I see that my mom's prescription is ready, so I tell him nice talking to him and get into line. There is only one ahead of me, but it takes a while. I finally get up to the window. I pay the five dollars and am given the prescription. "Wait here for a pharmacist to explain the medication to you," I'm told. I wait. And I wait. And I wait. I wonder if mom is okay. I hope nothing bad has happened while I've been gone. Finally, the pharmacist comes up. "Don't take anymore than eight in a twenty-four hour period. Take with food or milk. Take at least three hours apart." Okay, I'm gone.

Back up to the surgical waiting room. I check in this time. I sit down, open my book. I look up. There's mom's doctor, outside the door. "Should I go out?" I ask? The man next to me says "yes". I do. He says that mom's doing fine. He talks about the operation as if it were cosmetic. No big deal. He said "we removed a growth." I look at him. He's nice looking. (Hey, doc, didja know ya got a bat in the cave? Huh? Ya got a booger on your 'stache, a little green one. Pickin' yur nose while working on my mom?) I ask when I can see her. "Oh, not yet, she's still in recovery and it's nasty there. Puke, snot, really bad." (You would know about snot, wouldn't ya, doc?) He says she should be in post op in about an hour and a half. I shake his hand, stifle the urge to give him a big hug, forget about the booger. My mom's alive!! I go back into the waiting room and sit down. This isn't a room for small talk. I don't try. I start reading again. The women to my left start talking about food. I haven't eaten since Monday night. I am getting a little hungry. The cafeteria is closed. There is a sandwich place out front. There is also a little coffee shop, with pastries. A sandwich sounds good. I pick up the backpack and go out, down the hall. I call my mom's neighbor again, tell her what the doctor said. I go downstairs and outside. Don't see any sandwich shop, so I order a chocolate biscotti and a grande black coffee. The coffee is very hot, so I take the lid off and let it cool down. It's getting chilly outside. I slowly eat the biscotti, wishing it was a sandwich. I finish and the coffee has cooled down enough for me to comfortably drink it. I put the lid back on and back to the waiting room I go.

Whoa, what's this? I'm on the third floor, I look around. I don't see any hallways. I'm lost. The "Twilight Zone" theme runs through my head. I start feeling a little nervous. I've been down this hallway at least six times today. And now, it's gone. I'm feeling lightheaded, getting a little scared. (Doo..doo..doo..doo..oh, my God, I'm in a different dimension, something bad awful is happening to me, this is so weird, maybe there really is a twilight zone and I just entered it.) I look around, trying to get my bearings. There's the ICU waiting room. Okay, then down this hallway should be the surgical waiting room. But there is only the large door with the exit sign above. I don't like this, I don't like this at all. I try pushing the door opened, but it doesn't budge. I'm really getting scared now. Another man comes down the hall, he looks as lost as I'm feeling. He pushes on the door, harder than I did. It opens. Oh, more hallway!! After a couple of more trips around, we realize that all of the doors have been closed. What was once a long corridor, is now a series of short hallways. I find the surgical waiting room, go back inside. Peggy, the surgical waiting volunteer tells me that they had a fire drill while I was gone and all of the doors automatically shut. I said "well, nobody told me." She just laughed and told me a story of when she first started to volunteer. (Oh, am I having another conversation? I've talked to more people today than I usually do in a half a year.) Then she asks me who I'm waiting for and I tell her. She says "she's in post-op". Wow!! This is very, very quick. She tells me where I'm supposed to go and I pick up my belongings, thank her and down the corridor I go. I get to the post-op ward, tell them who I'm looking for. They point me in the direction of a bed and I walk down there. Damn, mom isn't in her bed.

I look around. Geez, I think, I wonder if she's in such a hurry to get out of here, that she's waiting by the car? I know this can't be true, so, I sit and wait. She was in the restroom. She got back into bed. She's very, very pale. The nurse brought crackers and water. Mom drinks some of the water. I ask her how she feels. She's a little sore, she says, and lightly rubs her right breast. The nurse brings a pain killer. Mom asked her how she knew that mom was hurting? The nurse says "your daughter told me". I don't remember telling her. The only thing I remember telling anybody, all day long, was to keep my mom warm, don't let her get cold. Don't let her wake up shivering, teeth chattering. Mom says "where's me choppers?" I open the bag. Spit. I left them in the car. I run out to get them. It's cooled off considerably now, I grab her sweater. Once back in, she puts her teeth in, takes a bite of saltine. "Yuck, those are awful." Here, mom, I say, try one of these. I open the package of graham crackers. She bites into one. "That's much better, those are kind of tasty." She sits back. "Can I go home?" I said, "when they say you can. Do you want to talk to Betty?" (Betty is her neighbor.) She nods. I get out the cell phone and call. I hear it ringing, hand it to mom. She says "Hi, it's me." After her conversation, she decides she wants to get dressed. I take out her socks and underwear, put her shoes on the floor. She gets her panties pulled up and I put on her little nylon socks. She asks where her blouse and bra are. I pick up her sweater and I look in the bag. Damn it, they're in the other bag. I can't even believe this. She says the sweater will be fine. We can't put it on her till the IV is gone. I tell the nurse my mom is ready to go home. She says she'll be right back with us. She brings over a couple of care (instruction) sheets and the release form. I sign it. She shows us how to empty the drain that's in mom. She shows us how to pull and stretch it to break up clots in it. If it has clots blocking it, the draining will stop. She takes mom's IV out. Mom has to put pressure on the gauze for five minutes, then she can finish dressing. I time it. We put on her sweater and she steps out of bed, puts on her pants. She slips into her shoes. A wheelchair is wheeled over and she sits down. I say goodbye to them all and quickly walk to the car. At the car I take everything out of the trunk and put it in the backseat. I dig through the backpack to my purse, grab my glasses. I drive slowly down to the front of the hospital. She's at the front of the hospital. She gets in, I hand her the little pillow, which she positions under the seatbelt. We're going home.

The car was pretty warm, which she liked at first. I didn't, I was starting to sweat, but I didn't say anything. When the chill wore off of her, she asked me to roll her window down a little. "It's pretty warm" she said. She said that she wasn't hungry, did I mind if we didn't get anything to eat? I had told her all along that she wasn't going to feel like eating. I now told her it wasn't a problem. On the way home, I asked her about how scared she had been. I asked her if she was surprised that they hadn't taken the breast. She said yes. I asked her why she thought that. She mentioned the additional biopsy. I pointed out to her that had they planned on taking the entire breast, there would have been no need for the biopsy. I sure wish she would have mentioned this to me earlier. I could have saved her a lot of needless worry, I think. The traffic was good on the way home and she was in her own house by five. I showed her neighbor how to empty the bag, and said goodbye. I came home to an empty house.

I gathered up all of the belongings in the car and checked the mail. Brian had left the porch lights on. I unlocked the door and went in. I dumped everything on the couch and looked for cats. I started calling for Ciara and I found her in the dining room window. I came back and turned on the computer. Not much mail.

I paged Brian and he was home before too long. We had Arby's for dinner and I was fast asleep on the couch at seven thirty.

This morning, the cats woke me up, playing with the newspaper, pushing it across the floor in the tv room. I got up and let them out. I came back and turned on the computer, got the camera running. Brian asked if I was going to exercise this morning. I didn't really feel like it, but I said that I really should. It certainly wasn't going to hurt me. I got out of my nightshirt, got my hands and arms caught up in it and started whining. My back really hurts, the sides of my back. I finally got it over my head and put on some sweats and a shirt, then my shoes and socks. Exercise over, it dawned on me why I'm so sore. All of that walking around with the backpack. I didn't use it as a backpack, but as a bag. I would just sling it over my shoulder. Well, I know I won't be sore like this forever.

At seven thirty this morning, I called mom. She must have been sitting on the phone. She shouted "I'm alive!!" She sounded better this morning than she has in weeks. She has her followup appointment on the twenty fourth, at which time they'll remove the drain. Then I'm sure we'll find out about the results of the test on her lymph node and the scheduling of the radiation therapy. I know she's going to be sore, but she'll be okay.

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Friday, November 19, 1999 Mom's feeling much, much better. Yesterday morning, she was ready for her neighbor to spend the night in her own house. She didn't, she stayed with mom last night, but she's not staying tonight. Mom wants to take the bandages off and she's going to call the hospital today to see if it's okay. I don't remember anything about this in the instruction sheets she got. She'll call me later.

I called the vet yesterday about Mickey. Every couple of years, Mickey starts to itch and he bites and scratches at himself until he is raw. He used to get oral medication for it. Well, I couldn't remember if he did. I knew that we had two cats on allergy meds at one point, I knew that Bart was one of them, couldn't really remember if Mickey was the other one. So, I asked if they could check it out and sure enough, it was Mickey. Charlene said she'd get the pills ready. I drove over about a half hour later and the prescription wasn't done. I guess the vet had to sign off on it and he said to just give Mickey prednisone for a couple of days, two pills once a day. Well, I have prednisone, so I ended up not having to buy anything. That was kind of nice. I started him on them as soon as I got home. I hope it helps. I don't want him getting infected.

Peter is turning out to be a little beggar. There is so much about him that reminds me of Bobby. Like his appetite. Bobby never could seem to get full when he was a kitten. As an adult, he would overeat, then puke. And he's started to talk in the kitchen. His little meow, "feed me, I'm very, very hungry, I'm starving to death, you should give me some food," he tells us. We just pick him up and snuggle his rounding belly.

I got the final (I hope) paperwork in the mail yesterday for the trademark. Last night, I worked on one of the new java programs I got for the menu. Looks really nice. Now, I have to figure out how to incorporate it on the lisaviolet designs index page.

Well, I have a bunch of company paperwork to do, I had best get busy. I hate paperwork.

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Sunday, November 21, 1999 My mom. *sigh* My mom. *deeper sigh* Let me tell you a little about my mom. I'm sure I've mentioned this elsewhere in the diary, long before mom was found to have cancer. And from some of the things I've told you even about her since the cancer, you may have gotten the impression she's a drama queen. You would be right. Mom is one of these people, always has been, that everything is about her. Any conversation you have is brought around to being about her. She loves to be the center of attention and doesn't seem comfortable with silence. When it gets quiet, she makes all of these weird sounds. Sighing, little singsong nonsensical words, fidgeting....I'm sure you get the idea. My mom is an energy sucker. I don't mean this to put her down, but an hour with my mom takes at least a three hour recovery. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom. But I can't be around my mom for very long. She knows it and I know it. That's why when Brian builds the new house in the Sticks, mom will have her own place. My mom has her little quirks that have a tendency to really grate on my nerves. The fidgeting. The little noises. The faces she makes. Most of it comes from her being such a nervous person. But realizing why she does it, doesn't make it easier to be around.

Friday, she had asked me if I would come over Saturday so she could take a shower. I said sure. I waited for her call and when she hadn't called by one-thirty, I called her. Could I come over in about a half hour? Okay, I said. I left and was over at her place by 2:30. She asked me if I wanted some soup. No, thank you, I just want to get you cleaned. She wasn't ready. She was showing me this thing and that thing, she was showing me cotton balls and gauze pads and tape. She brought it all into the master bath and I proceded to take off the bandaging that had been on her since the surgery. I was very, very careful not to pull on her. I was very, very gentle, much more so than she was with me when I was a child. Gentle isn't a label you could ever lay on my mom. There was a good sized gauze pad over the stitches, at least a three inch square. Then there was about a half inch to an inch of tape around that. I was working on the tape. You would think I was pulling her toenails out with a pliers from all of the faces and sounds she was making. I was so afraid that I was hurting her. When I asked her, she said it was fine. "Then why are you making those faces?" It was the drama queen in her. It didn't make my job any easier, believe me. There were two bandages, one over the stitches from the operation on the breast, and one over the area of the removed lymph node. I worked on one at a time. I saved the one around the lymph node, which also had the drain, for last. I had to cut the bandage around the drain to get it off. The scissors were dull. It wasn't easy to do. And I was so afraid of doing something to the drain. I should have been wearing my glasses, but I could see well enough. It would have been easier if mom would have sat still, believe me. The longer I took, the more nervous she got. I mentioned the dull scissors. She got defensive. At one point she said "I should have had Betty do this". Now, keep in mind, she didn't trust Betty. She thought Betty would hurt her. I could feel the energy draining from my body. I finally got all of the bandages off, leaving the butterfly bandages on, the ones over the stitches on her breast and under her arm. I sat there while she took her shower.

About the drain, the one from her lymph node. The stuff coming out of it is really gross looking. It's a bloody fluid. The drain has this long tube that goes into a little bulb type thing, which is what fills up. It's very, very important that the tube be kept clear. The fluid has a tendency to clot, so you have to pull the tube and stretch it, rub it between your fingers to keep the clots from forming. Because if they form, they block the drain. That could be a problem. I noticed that the top half of the tube seemed more full than that towards the bottom. I asked if she was clearing it the way it was supposed to be cleared. She complained that Betty has long fingernails and she's afraid Betty will puncture the tube. This isn't going to happen, it's a strong, thick tube. I don't really care for the way the fluid is just hanging at the top, but since mom says they clear it out, I don't say anything more. I should have.

Mom finished her shower, I put a clean bandage over the drain and I came home. Brian was across the street, talking to his little friend Chucky. I came inside, tired, beat, not wanting to do much of anything. I had finally gotten the new java menu to work at lisaviolet designs and I kept going over there to admire my handiwork. I scanned a button I had gotten from Disneyland, years ago, for the farewell performances of the Electric Light Parade, a big animated button and tried to animate it. I hated the way it looked. I figured I would work on my Disney page. Then I figured I would go through my boxes of pictures, looking for ones to scan or rescan for the shirts. I thought teeshirts with the acronyms would be fun. And I decided that my "gimmick" would be real cats with phony surroundings. Kind of like putting a cat in the middle of a cartoon. I played around with stuff and Brian made dinner. Poppers and shrimp. The poppers are breaded cheese filled jalapenos. That's what I ate. After dinner, I started going through the pictures in one of the boxes. There was nothing on television that interested either of us. I got the cats in and fed. Got bored and came back to the computer. Earlier in the day, we had gone to an office supply store and I picked up an order form for a keyboard condom. These things are great, thin plastic sheets made for keyboards. They fit right over the keys and keep crap from getting inside. Earlier this week my ampersand quit working because of a little piece of catfood. I started to fill out the form and when I turned the keyboard upside down, stuff started falling out of it. Eww... I shook it. More crumbs, dust and cat hair. I figure, hey, I should take it apart, I bet I can get even more stuff out. So, I get the screwdriver, take all of the screws out of the back. Keys start falling everywhere. Great. I use my can of pressurized air to blow out alot of the dust and cathair. Then I pick up all of the keys from the floor and start to put them back in. It's only the keys from the top row. I get them in, get the back on. I did something wrong. I hadn't realized that the keys for the CD player were marked and I had them in the wrong order. Spit. And the spacebar wasn't working unless I really hit down on it. Not good. I had to take the thing apart again.

Right in the middle of the big mess, the phone rang about 7:30 and Brian answered it. He yelled out "it's your mom". Great. This can't be good. I pick it up. "The drain must have come out, I'm all wet, what do I do?" "Call emergency." She did. About twenty minutes later, she called back. "I have to go in." Okay. I told Brian. I had to put on socks and shoes and grabbed a jacket. When I got outside, Brian was uncovering the car. "Were there any cats out here?" I asked. "Yes," he said. I hate leaving the driveway at night because of the cats. I hate emergency. Over to mom's we went. "I would have called Betty, but all of her lights are out and I didn't want to wake her up," she told us as she got in. She started explaining what had happened. Now, I know that we had been told that the drain had been stitched in, but when I took off the bandages, it didn't look like it was stitched to anything. I hadn't said anything at the time, because it looked okay other than that. Now, I was wishing I had said something. Maybe we could have done this in the daylight hours. Not at night and who knows how long we're going to be stuck there, sitting in the waiting room, sick people all around us? I hate emergency. The only ER I want to see is on Thursday night.

We got there about eight o'clock and Brian drops us off. He leaves to park the car and mom and I go inside, to wait in line. It's a short line. Thank God for small favors, maybe this will be quick. Mom starts acting like she's dying, which I know she isn't. She hands me her card and paperwork, she sits down. I go stand in another line. This woman takes down mom's phone number and takes the card. Brian enters the emergency room then and all three of us go sit and wait. Within ten minutes, they call mom's name. "Boy, this is nice," I think. "Maybe we *will* be out of her early." Not gonna happen. Mom can't do this by herself, I have to go with her to hold her hand or something. I guess she needs the moral support. I don't know, I just don't like being around people with sniffles and sneezes and hacking and coughing. I don't often get sick and I don't want to get sick. It's a small room, some sort of triage, with too many people in it, I shouldn't be in there. There's nothing wrong with me. They asked mom some more questions. She answers them. Then she's handed some forms and told to put them in a box by the door with the A on it and that's where they will be taking her in. I put the forms in the box by the door with the A on it and we go sit by Brian. And the waiting begins. The mindless banter, the fidgeting begins.

For some reason, mom thinks all little kids are cute. I don't. She likes the little ones that run through the emergency room, parents hot on their heels. Mom gets this dorky grin on her face, looks at me and nods in the direction of a child. I try to ignore this, I find it really irritating. She does it with all children, like I should look and be in awe of a child. She can love the little children all she wants, but please, don't expect me to feel the same way. I tell her I don't like kids. Brian laughs. She looks surprised. I also think I may be doing this just to be contrary. Especially since it came out that she thinks this problem may have started the night before. Needless to say, I'm a wee bit irritated. Why couldn't we have done this earlier? The best part of this conversation is getting Brian squeamish, seeing him squirm at graphic depictions of people mom knew in printing losing fingers. He pulls his body away from the conversation, as he says "stop!! stop!! I don't want to hear it." He actually started this, though, when he brought up the fact that when he sliced his tendon some other guy showed up who had cut off three fingers with a chain saw. That had to be a nasty cut. I bet they couldn't save those fingers. A woman had come in with a blanket around her and a big stew pot. I bet she brought it in because she was puking. I thought this was considerate. Mom made a big deal about the cookware. "I won't eat at her house," she said. (Oh, I wouldn't worry about that if I were you, you most likely aren't invited, seeing as you don't know her and she doesn't know you. What a dumb thing to say.) Mom thinks the woman should have brought in a plastic trash can. Like it really matters? I told mom that I didn't care what she puked in as long as she didn't puke on me. I repeat that I thought this was good thinking on the woman's part. After about a half hour of this, she's finally called back. Of course, I have to go with her.

There's no chair by her bed. I sit on a footstool. They have to call the surgeon in, because this is related to mom's surgery. We wait, make small talk. They bring other patients in. Guess who gets the bed next to us? The woman with the stew pot. Ah, geez, here we go again. She gets help more quickly than mom, because she doesn't need a specialist. Mom listens to the conversation. Here's a little example of mom's twisting words. The woman told the doctor that she was having bad headaches. She told him that she was having a "complicated love life". Mom repeated this as "stressful sex life", within minutes of overhearing the original conversation. Like when she was telling people she was going to have chemotherapy when it had been explicity explained to her that she was having radiation therapy. Not the same thing at all. I think mom talks before she thinks about what she says. But I know that that's not going to change at this stage of her life. Finally, the doctor shows up. He introduces himself and shakes mom's hand, nods in my direction. He looks at mom and at the drain. He had said something about her surgery Thursday and I corrected him, said it was Tuesday. I guess I should have been paying closer attention earlier. Mom had obviously said at check in that the surgery was Thursday. *sigh* Upon examining the drain, he said that he usually used a larger tube, but that mom's drain hadn't come out. He started looking around the examining room, said he wasn't familiar with it. He didn't usually work there. He was looking for a little kit that had a syringe and needle in it. He left the room. Mom heard the word "needle" and started throwing a mini tantrum, scrunching up her face, kicking the bed, hands balled up into fists. I'll tell you, if I had acted the way she was acting when I was a child, I'd have a really sore butt. "I'll give you something to cry for," was a familiar refrain. "Why couldn't they just use superglue?" she asked. Mom, what did you expect they were going to do? "Well, it's almost time for them to pull it out anyway" she said. "No, mom, they are taking it out Wednesday. This is Saturday. You still have a couple of days to use it." I say this calmly and rationally. Who needs children? I have my mother. "I hate needles" she says. It turned out she had nothing to worry about. The surgeon only wanted the syringe. He opened the packet and pulled it out. He took the drain container off of the tube. He put the syringe in the tube. He drew back. He did this again. Finally, a clot, about seven inches long, came out. Her tube had been blocked. The fluid was backing up and had started to come out around the drain incision. "There's your problem," he said. I looked at her. If she had let Betty manipulate the tube, this wouldn't have happened. It dawned on me now what mom had done. She told Betty not to bother, that she would take care of it. Then mom cleared the tube as far as she could. But she wasn't able to get it all. So, she just didn't worry about it. And look what happened. *sigh* My mother. The surgeon wasn't really thrilled about having to do all of this. This wasn't his job. He didn't take it out on mom, but from a couple of the things he said, I knew he was displeased. I'm sure somebody heard about it afterwards. He did cut the tube by about half, making it much more manageable. And he got a pin and showed mom how to pin it to her clothes, so that it wasn't in the way.

Finally, at nine thirty, we were able to leave. We walked out to the car and I got in the backseat behind mom. I'm fuming. I can't say anything because it won't do any good, it will just get her upset. Finally, I ask her what she's going to do now? How is she going to keep it from clotting? "I'll go to the drugstore and buy a syringe and do the same thing the doctor did." She just doesn't get it. I explain to her that Betty's nails are not going to puncture the tube, reminding her of how sharp the scissors were the the doctor used to cut the tube. I don't think she cares. I think she'll do it the way she wants to do it. All the way home, mom yakked. She pointed out all of the places she used to go when she first came out to Santee. We quit responding to every remark. I kept yawning. Bart was still outside, the out front cats hadn't been fed. I wanted to be home. She asked if we wanted to stop for a Pepsi. Brian and I said in unison "no". Finally, we got her to her house. She got out and I stayed in the backseat. Once home, Brian stopped at the top of the driveway, suggesting I get out there. I did and almost fell on my head doing so. My foot was caught in the seatbelt. Fortunately, I felt it before I got too far and disentangled myself. He parked the car and we went inside. He went out to get Bart and I got dinner ready for the outfront cats. Meezer and Cleo were waiting. I went back inside and locked the door, rinsed out the bowl.

It was ten o'clock. I came back and started the shut down on the computer. Brian did the dishes. We both went into the tv room and laid down. I told Brian how sore and beat I was. He said "your mom, the energy sucker". I remarked on her talking and how she finally slowed down when we quit answering. He said that was nice, then she started the fidgeting. Tapping her feet on the floor, making her little noises. I'm glad I was in the backseat. It was a long two hours.

Brian is tearing down the patio today. Then he'll put in the new sliding doors (the ones that match the windows) and paint. Then it's time for the new roof. Then he'll put a new patio up, this time with polycarbonate. As he's removing the wood, it's getting lighter and lighter in the house. It's nice.

And I have my keyboard working again. Keys in the right place and the spacebar is working properly again. Whew. That was a close call.

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lisaviolet is fifty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.








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