Saturday, May 26, 2007

Getting sick and wasting time

Aaarrrgh! I hate being or getting sick. It wastes so much time. And I especially hate it when it happens over a long holiday weekend. I feel screwed, screwed out of the time, of the healthy down-time, out of my personal myself time.

I'm dealing with one of those mysterious bugs that we all get from time to time. Don't know if I can "blame" my carpooler for this one or not. I do know that one of his kids was sick last week, and then he got sick, too. I think he thought it was allergies, but he didn't sound like he does when his allergies really bother him. So I'll nominate him as the likely culprit - but the truth is, this kind of stuff can just develop in your own system. Of course, by the time it was starting, I did not have symptoms that a doc would use, to give you a prescription. So what can I do?

Woke up on Friday feeling absolutely shitty - so I phoned work about 6 am and left a voice mail for my boss. I am sure that he was not surprised, because he had heard my voice taking a steady downturn during the day on Thursday. Wednesday night I went digging around the medicine cabinet to see if we had anything that I could use. Annnndd... I found a good-sized bottle of amoxycillin that was left over from some oral procedure (tooth pulled?) that Drummer had, back in January or so. I've been taking them since that night, and I think it is having a positive affect on my bug. Seems to be helping a bit, so I'll keep taking it.

I had some half-assed plans on getting something done over the several days off that I would enjoy. But those plans were set aside, obviously. But I'm feeling a bit better, so here's hoping that this weekend won't be a complete washout. Speaking of washout - seeing the downpour this afternoon, we changed our plans and did our crockpot meal today. Good thing that we had a meal planned for that! The prediction was 30% rain chance for each day (and in Houston, that is a pretty common forecast that we don't usually pay attention to), but then it kicked up to 50% for Monday. We have two more meals planned for the barbecue - if tomorrow works out so that we can barbecue, maybe we should just go ahead and cook both meals (chicken and brats). Then if Monday goes to hell, we can just reheat the brats.

We were so bummed when we moved to Houston back in 1985 and there were NO Johnsonville brats sold here. Eventually, after several years, someone started carrying them, and now you can find them all over. Plus, there are some good Czech and German sausage companies here in Texas that do a fine job, too.

I'm continuing this on the 29th, although I do find that the date of the original draft is the one which is associated with it. Got a doctor appointment for tomorrow, so not sure what I should do. Guess I'll take a half-day off and show up after lunch.

Forgot that another coworker was sick last week and carried it into today, too. So maybe he was the source of the elusive "bug"? Poor guy came draggin' in, and after attending a weekly status meeting, he pulled his laptop out and went home. Does that mean that women are stronger?? 'Cause I'm here at work, and he is not. In fact, he was also out sick last week - but on Thursday and Friday.

Sinus infections seem to be an almost annual thing with me. I was congratulating myself on getting thru this spring without one - and pow! so much for good health. I get "doctored" out after awhile. Have to see that damned cardiologist at least once a year. He is very good, but I just don't have a "warm fuzzy" about him. Wicked sense of humor, though. After dealing with him, it takes me a while to approach another doctor, another exam. The guy is autocratic.

Speaking of exams - I just love to listen to some guy complain about having a doc examine his prostate. Puh-leeease - try having a whole hand shoved up inside you. That's what women go thru, with "their" special exam. And some complete stranger then rubs his/her hands all over your boobs, because God knows, they are so-o-o-o much more familiar than you are, with what your boobs should feel like. Like I can't feel if I have a "mass" or lump in there?? And then to add insult to injury, they schedule you for the annual boob-smashing. Every woman alive knows that a man came up with this idea. If it's such a great idea, let's put guys' balls on a similar device and have at it. Women would be lining up to train for this, and I'll bet lots of 'em would volunteer to do it, free of charge.

I really do not hate men. Just venting a bit. Hope that whatever this doc gives me, will finally start to make me feel better. Come on... another weekend is just days away!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dealing with Alzheimer's

I thought I might write about dealing with a family member with Alzheimer's. Drummer's dad was diagnosed with it about 1-1/2 or 2 years ago. His wife (they have been married for about 14 years or so, marrying within the year of Drummer's mother's death) is very dedicated and I know that she doesn't leave her husband alone very much. In fact, we do worry about that. They live in Sun City West (north of Phoenix), and we do know that there are adult day-care services available, or even respite care (meaning someone to come in for a few hours or so). So far she has not taken advantage of that - she feels guilty if her hubby is left with a stranger, I guess.

Anyway, we visited with them last October. We had driven out (a 2-day journey each way) because his dad wanted us to take some things back with us. And it turned out that his dad just could not relinquish some things, such as photo albums (where he could not remember many folks in the photos anyway), so we probably could have flown. But oh well. We just tried to have a nice visit and did some fix-up things for them - Drummer replaced some of their old lamp parts, which had worn out and would not function as 3-way lights anymore and I oiled their patio chairs (the squeaking was drivin' me crazy!). His dad was much more responsive than we had hoped for. His wife said that he will sometimes "rise" when they have company - maybe that is from outside stimulation?

Drummer phones his dad each Sunday, and last Sunday his dad's wife asked Drummer to consider a visit towards the end of July. She would like to attend her eldest son's wedding in Wisconsin and doesn't feel that his dad will be able to go with her. So we talked it over, and Drummer agreed that he would try to help out - 7 to 10 days. He and I discussed it, and it will be pretty much isolation for him. He loves music and likes his tv, too. And his dad does not like the tv on nor (I think) music, either. Aucccckkkkk! So he thinks he will go stir crazy. And with his dad's dwindling vocabulary, that will pose another dilemma. I expect a LOT of phone calls.

Plus in yesterday's phone call, we learned that his dad had flooded the laundry room and some adjoining rooms, when he left a faucet on. And we do know that he "roams" the house at night, which I guess is typical for Alzheimer's patients. So there are many things to address. Drummer will go out there ahead of time to get a drill in day-to-day care, etc. I know that he is not looking forward to this, but he is doing it out of obligation.

The bad thing is that his dad's father also had dementia/Alzheimer's (how do they tell the difference, anyway?) and then died in his early 90's. So Drummer and his brother are probably wondering (as many would do, of course) if this fate awaits either of them.

Anyway, we are not "up close and personal" with this disease and only know of it via phone calls. Plus I have a co-worker whose mother was diagnosed years ago and finally had to go into a private care home (only licensed for 6 people). I know that Drummer's dad will eventually face some sort of care facility in his future. Not an easy choice to make for his wife and (most probably) his sons.

Obviously, I'll be writing about this in the future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dreamt of Dad

I was kind of surprised when I woke up Monday morning and realized that I had dreamt of my dad, who has been dead for about 3 years. I think he was only in one other dream I have had, since his death. There was nothing unusual to this dream (which I don't recall in much detail). I believe I had encountered some kind of problem, and there he was, offering some support or solution (I should have written this down when I woke up - dreams fade so quickly in detail). He looked good (more like his appearance in his 40's or so) and seemed happy, and I don't recall that I even addressed the fact that he was no longer walking this earth. It was nice to see him, and I think he called me "Pal" - his name for both Amy and me. He was in this dream very briefly. I do remember that I was not at all startled by encountering him - it just seemed like an everyday occasion.

Most of my dreams are do not stay with me, by the time I awaken. I do have a couple that I recall in some detail, due to the unusual message they seemed to deliver. Both of these dreams seemed to indicate (to me) a past life experience. I know that many do not believe in past lives, and if you are one of those, then continue reading at your own risk.

Both of these dreams had to do with my death(s), in very different circumstances - and which I hope not to re-visit with this body! (Not avoiding death - but avoiding violent death...) In one dream I am dashing down what appears to be a hallway or passageway, and someone shoots at me. I felt the bullet go into my mouth and awoke suddenly to a metallic taste in my mouth. So that would indicate a death in a time when firearms were around. I do not know if I was male or female, but somehow I felt that I was a man in that life. The other past life dream places me with my sister (and I do not mean my current, very much alive sister). We are being surrounded by a crowd, and it is obviously the crowd's intent to beat us to death. I don't recall any weapons (stones, maybe? sticks?), and this one might be from anytime in history, up to the recent times. I don't have a strong feeling on my gender in this and cannot recall seeing my hands or anything similar, that might give me a clue.

But these dreams seemed like hints of past lives - and don't ask me why. It was just a feeling that I had. I have read others' opinions on past lives. Some feel that you keep coming back until you "get it right".

I have such easy familarity with the music of the 1940's - above and beyond the exposure to the music of my parents' youth - and I think I may have been alive during that time. In that case, I must have died fairly young and then made a quick return to another life, since I was born in 1948! For some time, I had a strong feeling that my most prior life was lived as a male. I harken back to the "tomboy" activities that I was drawn to - building forts, playing with cars, riding bikes - and I only had one doll that I enjoyed - and that was only because it was a costume doll and it was interesting to have different outfits for it. My sister loved playing with baby dolls, and yet I never had those little girl dreams of marrying and having children. I mean, I love the nephews and niece that we have between us. Just never wanted kids of my own.

And going along with that gender identity - I never thought that I would not work, either. Always expected to have a job for many years. Which turned out to be several jobs, for many years. But that was through my own choice, fortunately. Never been fired and now looking to retire in 3 years - yahooooo!!

As usual - this is rambling and that means it needs to END! Later...

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Volunteering at the IAPH conference

I waited until my (assumed) last volunteering day at the conference, so that I could sum up the small (and greater) things that I observed. Then I wrote this. Came back and decided that NOBODY wanted as much detail as I was giving.

So for any (lucky or unlucky) readers, be grateful that I did not post the first draft!

First of all, some explanation. I work at a Port Authority (okay - I work at the Port of Houston Authority in Texas). The Port's director is the head guy (president?) of the IAPH - International Association of Ports and Harbors. On the final year of the current president's term, his home port hosts the international gathering. So of course they solicited the employees for volunteering for various jobs while this is going on. I volunteered for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. My manager is so reluctant to let his staff volunteer (even for Port functions) during the work week, so that's why I chose Saturday and Sunday (on my own time, dammit). I showed up at the Hilton Americas hotel each morning by 8 am and breakfast was provided. Much better than anything I would grab at the house and it was included for free for the volunteers (okay, I know that someone paid for).

Anyway, I don't get to downtown Houston very much, so I carefully looked at maps on how to get there, where to park, etc. And still ended up taking the wrong exit - but at least I know downtown well enough to get further east, where the hotel is across from the George R. Brown Convention Center.

This conference was handed over to some contractors, because who (at the Port) has the expertise in all of these areas? I think the overall conference was given to one contractor, the media stuff to another, and the exhibition stuff to another. Maybe there were more, but those are the 3 areas that I had personal experience with over the 3 days.

I did hear good things about the opening night's program from attendees. So that was handled well, apparently. The registration was fairly FUBAR (ask someone who has been in the military, if you don't know what that stands for), IMHO (okay, ask someone who does texting) - it means, in my humble opinion. Okay - I'll stop using these acronyms, etc. Besides dealing with the "professional" organizers, the most difficult thing at registration was the names of registrants. Of course, some were logical (from our European roots), and others were a struggle. Even when you ask someone to spell their name, we are not used to hearing "zed" instead of "zee"! Every registrant got a complimentary carry-on bag, stuffed with enough whatevers to make it fairly weighty. I did like some of the Asian country attendees, who offered up a piece of paper with their names on it. Okay - I admit that I cannot read the languages which have their own characters, but I thought their approach to that was smart.

By the time lunch rolled around, I was fed up with the little chickies running registration and was considering mutiny. Lunch was also free to the volunteers. Mmmmm - the hotel puts on a mean spread. The desserts were simply to die for. Rest of the food was good as well.

Some observations: the attendees were, for the most part, very considerate and patient. I was lucky that I had volunteered for the week-end, because by the time Monday rolled around, I knew where various halls and conference rooms were (3rd or 2nd floor), so I was comfortable in directing folks to those areas. Language was a problem, of course - I am sure that they had as much trouble with our accents as we did with theirs.

One of the attendee gifts was a cowboy hat. Hats are rated by their X's - the more X's, the higher the quality. The give-aways were 2X, but they were shaped already. Most folks do not realize that a "raw" cowboy hat is not shaped - you choose how you want the brim turned, how you want the crown shaped. An unshaped hat looks kind of like Hoss Cartwright's did (for those of you who remember Bonanza on tv). Seems like most folks were pretty excited to get those hats.

Besides working at the registration check-in desk, I assisted at the room where the hats were being doled out, for a bit. Also worked in the media room (I toted publications down to the magazine racks in the exhibit hall); assisted in getting names and facts straight for the the minutes of an afternoon session of one of the executive committees; and even rode shot-gun for another employee who drove 3 of the registrant's wives to a Western store so that they could look for cowboy boots. One of these wives does line-dancing in Rotterdam (western-style dancing)! I think she was looking forward to flaunting those boots to the other dancers. When you signed up for volunteering, you were told that you should expect to do anything that was needed. And that summed it up.

Overall, it was a good experience. I was glad that I volunteered and got to see the pieces of it that I could. Besides giving us cowboy hats as thank-you's, the Port also gave us a carry-on bag (like the kind that the registrants received) with a few little goodies inside: once of those portfolios (canvas) where you can slip a full-size tablet inside, some book about Houston and its diverse cultures, and so on.

Back to reality now.