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Friday, October 23, 2015

Uchol's death

It's been nearly 3 months since Uchol died. I'm still figuratively bleeding, but it's no longer a hemorrhage. I can write about it now.

The last few weeks, he'd been acting oddly. I just thought he was sick, I didn't know it was serious. He was always weak and tired. Every few days he'd look at me with fear in his eyes and say, "I may have to go to the emergency room today." But he wouldn't.

I was really worried about him that last week, because he had me go shopping alone, and didn't want to go anywhere. He had a doctor appointment coming up and I was hoping to get some answers. Uchol didn't like me to go into the doctor's office with him - he had me sit out in the waiting room. He didn't like that I interrupted him talking to the doctor. I never thought I was interrupting, just asking questions. But I humored him.

Saturday, August 1, we had been intending to go to the local science fiction convention. Uchol didn't feel up to it, and I didn't want to go alone. About 10 in the morning, he said he had to go to the emergency room and called an ambulance. After he left, I did a little puttering around the house and ate some breakfast. Then I went on to UNM hospital, taking his phone and Kindle. He was upset that I hadn't followed the ambulance, but frankly, he's gone to the hospital in one so often it felt kind of routine. I took knitting and something to read, and settled down for the day.

Eventually I had to get food. When I came back, Uchol was in deep conversation with what was probably a male nurse, who turned to me and said that this was just a routine question, but had we talked about whether or not he wanted to be on life support. I gave the nurse a hard look, and he quickly said that they asked this of everyone who came into the emergency room. I knew this was not true. They had never mentioned this before, and we'd been in an emergency room about 10 times.

Later after the nurse left, Uchol started trying to teach me how to use his fancy cell phone. He never wanted me to mess with it before. I just told him, "Oh, sweetie, I'll never remember this. Let's do it some other time."

At around 6 pm I said, "Could I go home? I'm pretty tired." We kissed goodbye and I went home.

How I wish I had just stayed the night. I never saw him conscious again.

The next morning at 5 am, I got a call from the hospital telling me to get there as quickly as I could. So I did. They had Uchol sedated and intubated, and said he was bleeding in his abdomen and they were going to take him down for some tests, to see if they could stop the bleeding. I stayed holding his hand until they came to get him, then went to get some coffee. I got the coffee and sat down outside, and my phone rang. I don't remember what they said exactly but it was to the effect that something had gone horribly wrong. I ran for the room, and got there as the medics were wheeling him back in, doing CPR. Let me tell you, in real life it's a hell of a lot more violent than when you see it in a TV show. I got out of the way and collapsed into a chair by the wall, and just waited, crying, in horror. He still had the tubes in his throat, and blood came out his mouth around them every time the nurse pumped his chest.

They got his heart started again, and warned me that he'd have broken ribs from the CPR, that people always did. I asked what happened, and they said that on the way to the test, his blood pressure just crashed and his heart stopped.

I had just enough time to relax, thinking he'd be okay, when his heart stopped again. They started CPR again, harder this time, and more blood came out his mouth. At this point one of the doctors asked me, "How long ago did his doctor tell him he had three months left to live because of his liver?"

Stunned, I gaped at him and said "What?" The doctor looked at my horrified face and went away.

They kept going on the CPR for a long time while I stood, sobbing. I knew it wasn't going to do any good. Finally I went over and said to the doctor, "You're not going to get him back this time, are you?" He said, "No." After a few minutes he said, "You can stop this." So I told them to stop, then wedged myself into a corner and sobbed. Behind me, they disconnected everything and gave him medication so that he wouldn't be in any pain at the end.

Later nurses came in and cleaned him up so I could say goodbye.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Keeping on

Nearly a month since the death of my husband, but every day seems like a year. I've tried my old methods of self-soothing, but they aren't working and they're self-destructive anyway. Food isn't doing it - I even bought a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough and ate it. Haven't done that in over a decade, maybe two. Not a good thing for a type-2 diabetic to do. It tasted good, but not as good as I remember, and it didn't help. I've been shopping - almost couldn't make myself stop - and it hasn't helped. All I can think is that he won't be here to see the clothes on me or watch the movies. Or gripe that I didn't need to buy that yarn, I have too much yarn. Plus I've got a LOT of medical bills I now have to pay off. Reading and watching TV do help. They take me away from myself.

The only thing left is writing. If this fails me I don't know what to try next. Therapy? A bereavement support group? I'm really not a people-person, and now without my husband to make me go out and do things, I've discovered that I'm good for one outing a day, and had better get everything done during that outing because when I go home, I will stay there.

No children, no siblings, and my 90-year-old mother is also dying. Dad died in 1983. I have some elderly aunts and uncles left, and a lot of cousins I haven't seen in years, if not decades. Thank God for friends! And the lovely people at church! I've arranged my work schedule, thanks to my wonderful boss, so I can go to the Prayer Shawl Knitting Group at church again. And I'm trying another knitting group on Saturdays. My writing group meets on alternate Fridays. Meeting a friend for an occasional meal out or trip to the movies, zoo, or whatever will also keep me from becoming a complete hermit.

I think I'll start writing my memoirs on this blog. They won't be anything memorable, I'm afraid. I've been a dull person with quite an ordinary life. But it'll give me a topic to work on here, and keep me writing when I'm not working on one of my novels to self-publish. And that gives me a title, from Emily Dickinson. "I'm Nobody."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Alone versus lonely

I grew up an only child, but I didn't have a problem with it. I've always been good at entertaining myself. I lived alone from the time I got my first apartment in my late 20s until my future husband moved in with me at age 50. Never felt scared at home alone, never felt lonely.

My husband of 10 years (we were together 12) passed away August 2, 2015. I have now spent 1 week as a widow. Frankly, in between crying jags, I can't believe he's gone. He had been ill, but he kept exactly how ill he actually was from me.

My 90-year-old frail Mom had a friend drive her up to spend the week with me, and my sister from another mother Diane drove down from Denver. They both left yesterday at about noon. Which is about the same time my husband died one week earlier. I'm the sort that toughs things out. I turned off my phone and endured my first afternoon alone.

It was endure, let me tell you. Thank God for the cats! If I had been the only living thing in this little house I'd have gone nuts. It was one damn long afternoon. This morning, I got up and puttered around, had breakfast, washed the dishes, folded some laundry - plenty more of that to do as I hadn't done it for a couple weeks - and sat down to write. In the living room. I had been writing in the kitchen because Uchol had to have the TV playing nearly constantly, and I can't write if there's anybody talking or any music on. White noise is OK. I've planned some errands for this afternoon. Tomorrow I go back to work and will begin to establish my new routines.

I've got a lot of friends that I never had time to visit with, and some hobbies I never had time to pursue. Except for feeling that my heart is a ball of aching lead, I think I'll be okay.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Anti-vaxxers are selfish and ignorant.

I recently saw an anti-vaccination meme on Facebook that declared polio and smallpox weren't defeated by vaccinations, but by 'improved nutrition and hygiene.'



The sheer depth, breadth, and span of the ignorance it would take to believe this is bigger than the solar system. Probably even bigger than the local galactic cluster.

Science education in this country has been gutted of all content, usefulness, and accuracy. We have given in to assorted anti-intellectual groups to the point where there is no longer valid science education in American schools. Instead of the facts as science currently knows them, we have removed anything that might offend the "Christian" extremists. We have also, thanks to that 'no child left behind' garbage, dumbed all education down to the lowest common denominator.

In short, we are on the exact same path that lead the Middle East from being the forerunner of science and medicine into the mess it is today.

Only someone who has never been taught the scientific method of turning a hypothesis into a theory could possibly believe in creationism. Intelligent design also is a belief, not a theory. A scientific theory must be tested, and/or evidence - actual physical evidence - must be found that supports it.

Only someone who knows nothing of history could possibly believe that vaccinations are more harmful than the diseases they prevent. Where today are the tuberculosis sanitariums, where thousands upon thousands went to die? Where are the iron lung wards? They vanished after the vaccinations came out. We wiped smallpox off the earth, a disease that claimed millions of lives before we had a vaccine. We had nearly wiped out measles in this country - a highly contagious disease that can result in blindness, and/or deafness, or death. I myself nearly died from measles before we had that vaccine, but fortunately was left with my eyesight and my hearing.

Besides being incomparably ignorant, the anti-vaxxers are also completely devoid of the idea of civic duty. They have the currently prevalent philosophy of 'me and mine first, screw the rest of you.' They turn their little disease factories they call their children loose in the world, infecting babies who are too young for the vaccine and the people who for medical reasons (immune deficiencies or allergies) can't be vaccinated. They are using their children as biological weapons, killing and maiming innocent people. And they don't care.

Anti-vaxxers are selfish, ignorant people who have lost sight of the fact that they are not alone in the world, that what they choose can kill others. When I was a kid, parents had to provide proof of vaccinations before their children could be enrolled in school, unless they had a valid reason (Christian Scientist or medical) and had written proof. We need to bring that back. The anti-vaxxers should have to homeschool their little germ factories.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who knows where the time goes?

I don't write in this so often for two reasons. First, I lead a dull life. Second, somehow that dull life keeps me running all day.

Here's a typical: get up at six, get ready for work. Work 7:30 to 3:30 with a lunch break (it takes me my entire break to eat my lunch). Then home. Usually we've got some kind of errand to run, after which my husband suggests we eat out. The earliest I get home is 6:30. Usually 7 or 8. I got to bed at 9. That's it. No time to knit, no time to write, no time to do any housework or enjoy my cats. I watch maybe an hour of TV and go to bed. Weekends aren't any better. I feel like a hamster on a wheel most days. So excuse me, it's now 8 pm and I have to do the kitty litter.