Monday, February 22, 2010

I wanna be sedated

BR's been under hospice care for a bit over a month now, with the primary goal of getting his pain under control. They took him off the Fentanyl patches and percocet, and put him on Methadone and liquid morphine. Initial indicators were good. The pain immediately changed to something more tolerable, but still painful -- 4-6 instead of 7-8 on the pain scale. Since then, they have been gradually increasing the methadone, and he's now consistently a 4-5. With the last increase, though, sedation has started to rear its ugly head. He slept for a large part of the day yesterday. We'll have to wait and see where this new dosage settles, but there's a good chance we won't be able to increase again without compromising his ability to take his other oral medications on schedule.

When he is awake, though, he's in a much better frame of mind. And for that, I'm thankful.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ready for the next round

What a refreshing bit of travel. With BR safely in the care of Jordan, I was able to focus on work in California for a week and family in Illinois for a weekend. However, as the time grew closer to head back to Austin, the call from New Orleans grew stronger and stronger. "Carnival." "Carnival."
Ring. Ring.

BR: Hello?

Steve: Hi Bobrobert! Everything going OK?

BR: Fine. How's the family?

Steve: Great! Mom's doing so well, She spent the night here last night, and thinks she'll be out by next week.

BR: And Hope? How cute is she?

Steve: Adorable. A little fussy today, but that's probably just because she's not used to having so much commotion around her. Hey, I've got a question.

BR: The answer is yes.

Steve: Yes? You don't even know the question.

BR: Yes, you can go to New Orleans. But for every dollar you spend on this side trip, I get to spend one on myself.

Steve: Deal!

BR: And be sure to text me lots of pictures.
[Note to T-Mobile: Add extra 3G capacity to the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. It's frustrating to get an unusable 3G signal.]

Adding those extra two days to the trip was the best idea. Two days for myself without worrying about BR or family. I came home happy and ready to continue providing care and comfort to BR, ready to tackle more of the overdue household tasks, and ready to face whatever MS decides to throw at us next.

Bonus round: New Orleans Postcards

Last minute change of plans

Landing at Louis Armstrong International Airport

Orpheus Parade

She won first prize

Running into old friends

Bead toss

Lunch with Karen

The party's over

Illinois Postcards

Landing at Chicago's Midway Airport

Visiting with Cindy. We've been friends since high school.

Meeting my niece, Hope

California Postcards

Oakland International Airport baggage claim

San Mateo Bridge, late afternoon

Lunch with co-workers, through cooking demonstration mirror

Fog rolling in off the San Francisco bay

Former neighbor Sabine and daughter Anouk

Friday, February 12, 2010

Special Valentines

I really believe that Mom's amazing recovery over the past six months would not have been so amazing if it weren't for little Hope, who is amazing in and of herself given all my sister went through to have her.

Here are my girls playing around at Thanksgiving.

BR, you are always my special Valentine, and I wish you could be going with me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now face west. Now face north.

I arrived at the Oakland airport Sunday evening. Immediately upon touchdown, I texted BR requesting Superbowl updates. He did a great job keeping me informed until I could get in my rental car and find the game on the radio.

Football on the radio is a challenge for someone who isn't a die-hard team fan. I don't know the names of all the Saints players, so often an exciting play would happen, and I wouldn't know for several minutes whether to cheer or cry. But there was no mistaking that finish. WOO HOO!

It's Thursday now. Only two more work days, then a flight to Chicago on Saturday to spend Valentine's Day with my family. Mom's already started having overnight trips out of the nursing home, and expects to be home full time by the end of the month. I repeat, WOO HOO!

This trip, I expect to help my father around the house making preparations for the homecoming. He's not had internet service since moving, so we'll make a plan to get that up and running. My sisters have already taken care of daily living adjustments with the overnight visit. I expect the biggest preparations remaining will be mental. Mom hasn't lived at home since July 2008 -- nearly two years. Habits change. Depression forms like a fog that occasionally burns off, only to return at night. Coping becomes a solitary activity.

Monday will find me back in Austin. I've caught wind of some good "Cat's Away" stories, and hope that BR will feel up to sharing them.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Services at 11am

BR and I are in Dallas. Well, Richardson to be exact. We are busily making our way through the morning routine, which started at 7am, so that we can get checked out and be at the funeral home by 11am. It's been quite a week.

We got a call from our dear friend Cathy Monday evening. Through tears, she told us that her husband had passed away suddenly. Whatever fuss BR and I were having at the time was immediately set aside, and we started in on the grim duty of spreading the word to our circle of friends.

Tuesday morning came, and I knew we needed to get to Dallas, to Cathy, to help in any way we could. A day of schedule shuffling and planning later, and I was in a rented car on my way. BR would stay behind with Jordan, and I would fetch him on Friday for the services.

The week that followed was filled with love and laughter and tears and sorrow and memories. And beer. Lots of beer.

So as we pull it together to say our farewell to Todd, I am comforted to be witnessing a beautiful example of family and friends coming together to navigate the survivor's storm.