Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BR's iBOT takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

The iBOT repair man arrived on the 22nd to assess the damage to the iBOT after BR's fall down the front steps. I had noted that the headrest was bent, and that a cast aluminum panel that held the right leg rest in place had cracked, leaving the leg rest usable but unstable. After describing the incident to the repair man, he gave the chair a once-over. To his surprise, the two items I noted for repair were the only things he could find wrong as well. Whew! That thing is really built like a tank! He ordered the parts and returned the following Wednesday to make the repairs -- just in time for us to load up in the minivan and head to Louisiana for Nanny's memorial service.

BR with Sarah-Beth in Belcher.

Jordan and Steve on the couch.

It was great to spend the weekend with family. Jordan joined us for the road trip, and got to experience first hand the brand of love grown only in Belcher. Food and drink were plentiful, and I took time to perform some routine maintenance on BR's mother's and uncle's computers. Uncle Mickey's had gotten into a state where antivirus protection failed to start, and Windows patches failed to install. I found the solution in Microsoft's knowledge base, and after a few hours of downloads, ACL resets, and Service Pack installations, the computer rebooted without any errors and protected with antivirus.

When we returned to Austin, we were greeted by our friend Jeanne. She had flown in from Oakland to spend some of her spring break with us. We love Jeanne, and hadn't seen her since her 50th birthday celebration at Jazz Fest in New Orleans last year. She was a delight as usual, and we took advantage of the beautiful weather by spending Tuesday walking in the neighborhood park, and eating a Polynesian-Mexican meal at the Hula Hut on Lake Austin.

Jeanne and BR at the greenway waterfall

I return to work tomorrow, so I spent today planning our Easter Chapeau party on Sunday. I also made a run to the Home Depot to pick up a 6"x6"x8' post to protect BR from the front steps when he's on the porch. With the post in place, BR will be able to spend time unsupervised on the porch once again. Yippee!

Front steps before ...

... and with the post in place.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Memorium: Doris "Nanny" Pearce (1920-2010)

Nanny was BR's maternal grandmother. I first met her in the early 1990s at BR's cousin Billy's wedding in Dallas. She was energetic, observant, outspoken, and as BR warned me, somewhat judgmental -- a warning I had managed to forget as I sped from work to their hotel on my motorcycle, still wearing a "Sorority Girls from Hell" t-shirt. Not one minute after greeting her, I heard her read the t-shirt out loud, and then let out a laugh that at the same time was warm and welcoming, and yet said "can you believe what this idiot is wearing?"

Nanny was a picture of southern gentility. She had high expectations of her family, which occasionally lead to awkward secrets. In the early years of our relationship, BR was adamant that Nanny was not to know that he was gay. After about the second time I joined him on a trip home to Louisiana, Nanny decided that I would be a perfect boyfriend for his cousin Paige. This matchmaking continued until shortly after BR and I married in 1992, and he decided to come out to her. Paige, however, continued to refer to me as her "backup boy" for many years to come.

Nanny was frequently concerned with BR's appearance. The years when he would grow his hair long, she would encourage him cut it to a respectable length. This prompted a Christmas present one year containing nothing but his hair.

In the years after the passing of her second husband, Frank, Nanny became increasingly introverted. BR's mother Dede moved into a home built on Nanny's property to be close by. Between her, her sister Beth, and their families, Nanny was lovingly cared for through her passing Thursday morning.

I think I'll get a haircut today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We are uncles yet again!

This time it's figurative. Another neighborhood couple just had their first baby, a beautiful little girl named Josephine. We've made up another batch of custom onesies to welcome her to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BR's world just shrank a bit

I was upstairs in a teleconference for work, when I heard a whole lot of commotion and yelling from down stairs. BR was down there with some friends making dinner, so at first I just assumed they were having a good time and "getting happy." In the second wave of shouts, I could make out my name and a sense of urgency. I stuck my head out the office door to see what was going on. "Bobrobert has fallen off the porch! Get down here quick!" A choice expletive and a quick good-bye to the conference, and I was flying down the stairs.

BR was laying on the sidewalk at the foot of the porch stairs, his iBOT on its side and partially on top of him, sounding the all too familiar "red alarm." I powered off the chair, and tried to lift it out of the way, but it was good and wedged on the railing. So I turned my focus to BR.

"Are you OK?"

"Yes." He sounded a little shaken up.

"Did you hit your head?"

"No, sir." Whew. I felt around his scalp just to make sure.

There was no blood and only a few noticeable scrapes on his elbow. At this point, I wanted to ask, "How did this happen?" but realized there would be plenty of time to play Monday morning quarterback later.

Given BR's recent osteoporosis diagnosis, we were all a bit concerned that he may have broken some bones. Without moving him too much, we got him comfortable on the sidewalk with a blanket and the wheelchair cushion for his head, then called the hospice after-hours nurse for help. He took our information, then advised us to call 911, because BR would likely require x-rays in the ER. While a neighbor called, I had Jordan gather all his medication, and I grabbed his DNR. The ambulance arrived and soon he was on a stretcher and on his way to the hospital.

BR hates the ER. His medications give him intense dry mouth, and he's never seen without a bottle of water. So it irks him to no end that from the moment the EMTs arrive until he's seen by the ER doctor, he's not allowed a drop of water. But that doesn't stop him from asking, begging, and pleading. All told, he was without water for a little over an hour, and very happy when he was finally given some.

The doctor ordered some x-rays and a Dilaudid injection. We just laughed, as previous experience with Dilaudid has shown it to have absolutely zero effect on BR. He got Demerol instead.

They took the x-rays, which didn't show any fractures. The doctor wanted to order a CAT scan, but we decided against it. All told, we were in the ER for three hours and left with peace of mind that his bones were still intact.

But things won't be the same. The front porch was BR's place to be social with the neighbors -- one of the few daily social opportunities he has apart from Jordan and myself. He will now require supervision when on the porch. An extra set of eyes to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen again. A little less independence.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jordan's first motorcycle lesson

Saturday was Jordan's 20th birthday. When I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate, she said she wanted to learn to ride the motorcycle. She was quite successful.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One project down

18 months ago, I forgot to remove the casters from BR's hospital table before the movers took it. For 18 months, it hasn't rolled properly. Last night, I finally pulled out the drill and box of miscellaneous fasteners, and fixed the damn thing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Regaining focus

Spring has arrived here in Austin. Highs will be in the 70s all week. BR and I even slept with the windows open last night. Very refreshing.

Spring also means the end of the cedar allergy season. For me, cedar allergies are not only a runny nose and blocked sinuses and persistent cough, but also a lethargy that I find difficult to overcome. Pseudophed is just about the only thing that gets me through. Thank goodness I won't have to deal with that again until November.

I got a letter from my employer about a week ago. They are switching insurance carriers. Anthem Blue Cross has made headlines lately for outrageous rate hikes, prompting my employer to take their business to Aetna. I'm going to take this change as a sign that it is time to move BR to Medicare and a supplement plan. The main thing holding me back before was inertia, and this was just the push I needed.

BR and I have been struggling with a lot of negativity lately. The word "no" seems to flow out of his mouth very easily, expressing a contrary opinion over even the silliest of things. When I have the strength, I can laugh and let it slide. When I don't, it leads to some pretty heated arguments. I even find myself taking advantage of his sedation, allowing him to sleep longer than I know he would like in order to put off having to deal with the inevitable stream of criticism. This isn't one of my prouder admissions, and I'm taking it as a clear sign that it is time for both of us to seek some counseling.

I'm also taking it as a sign that it is time to stop working from home so much. My employer just moved into new offices on the edge of town with magnificent views of the Texas hill country. My hope is that the daily trip into the office will create some perspective on life that is impossible to maintain when I only leave the house to make groceries. I'm thinking of it like mini trips to California.