Monday, May 10, 2010

Week of Maintenance and Weekend of Fun

Medical appointments provided book ends for my week of high maintenance. On Monday I only spent a little over an hour in the dentist chair where I had been spending nearly two hours in past weeks. This appointment was to take off a temporary bridge, make a permanent impression for new bridge, and then put the temporary bridge back on.

I usually zone out in the dentist chair. My very pleasant dentist shows me X-rays and talks to me about them as if I understood what he is saying. I can see the X-rays in front of me, but I lack the imagination to figure out where the pictured ones are in my own head and I lack the vocabulary to understand his intentions. I assume they are honorable and try to be pleasant nodding in return. I close my eyes when the work begins and try to think of something far away.

All went well until I had that tub or whatever held the goop for the impression. I guess the stuff hardens. Suddenly I was aware that all the tapping and hammering in my mouth was more intense. It just did not seem to end. I gripped the seat harder the way I usually do when I feel pain in that chair. When the pain kept coming with every blow, I put one sharp finger nail into my finger on the other hand and tried to think about that self-inflicted pain and deflect thinking about my mouth.

I tried not to flinch, but I did not always succeed. Was I going to have to leave with my mouth propped open with something clued in there permanently? The dentist was offering apologies. I don’t think I ever had a dentist say sorry to me before, which was very nice but somehow did not make me feel calmer. When my mouth was finally emptied of the offending excess, I had a feeling the dentist was more relieved than I was. Something had caught on a cap or a bridge or something on the other side of my mouth. “I’ve never had that happen before,” he added.

Needing a reward, I went by my favorite lunch place and treated myself to a cup of their always good soup, which they serve with a big fluffy roll and sweet butter. Thus fortified, I went by daughter Katherine’s and found her rose bush in the front yard full of little red roses. I picked one as I went in for her and put it in a mini vase. She planted many flowers and plants in the old days when she was still able, and they are quite beautiful now.

Tuesday was spent on various tasks at our house, and we went in for Sam’s band concert that night. The concert was splendid, but the hot gymnasium brought back many memories of those May-time programs we attended for so many years when our kids were in school.

The rest of the week was mostly pleasant although Katherine had a rough time on Wednesday, which is the weekday she has no morning help right now. Lana, an afternoon aide, had fixed her a nice lunch in bed before she left just as I came by,  Then  a girl friend (from kindergarten days no less) dropped in to bring her a lovely set of wind chimes as a souvenir from a trip to the coast and, best of all, a chatty newsy visit before she left for a flight to Jordan the next day top visit her daughter.

I was enjoying the visit as much as Katherine until I looked at my watch and gasped. I had unexpectedly needed to volunteer to take Sam for an eye appointment at Walmart, and it was time. We arrived l0 minutes late, and the doctor had already gone. We went on to Sears on the off chance they might have a cancellation, but they didn’t, and neither place could take him until Friday—which wouldn’t work since the Marion Junior High band had been one of five in the entire state chosen to go to some special competition in Champaign that day.

Feeling defeated, Sam and I went back to their house, and Gerald made a trip into town to help Katherine from bed to chair. We left her and Sam ordering pizza since David was working late. I suggested Gerald get a sandwich or something at a drive-in on his way home, and I finally made it to Kroger for senior citizen day. I was grateful that unlike most months, I did not meet any old friends to converse with. I bought more than enough groceries to qualify for the fifteen cent discount from their gas station the next time we needed a fill-up, and a very young clerk helped me load all the groceries into the car. I too went through the drive-in and munched my sandwich as I drove home. I made sure the perishables were put away and relaxed the rest of the evening reading a new magazine and also on the Internet with its unlimited reading material.

Friday arrived with a long-made appointment with the ophthalmologist. Expecting in January to need new lenses or another cataract surgery, I heard the optometrist explain that my prescription was fine and the cataract had not grown, but the cataract corrected over two years ago was now clouded over as often happens in these surgeries. Their office would call the other office to set up an appointment to take care of it with a painless ten-minute procedure. Sounded simple, but when the ophthalmologist’s office called with the appointment, the woman said it would require an appointment just to examine me first—not for the procedure. That sounded a careful thing to do. So I really did not dread this appointment.

In the meantime, Gerald had shown me a flyer about a doctor giving free skin cancer screenings at a local hospital. Gerald knew I was a little concerned about a new spot on my face since I have had two skin cancers (the good kind) on my face before. So I had made an afternoon appointment the same day as the morning eye appointment.

At the eye doctor’s office, I was turned over to a woman whom I was not introduced to nor explained her function. She proceeded dilate and to test my eyes quite thoroughly, and I thought that was fine. But then she said after shining a light in both eyes that the cataract probably did need surgery. I was convinced she was right because I was unable to see anything with that light flashed in that eye. I could see with the eye with the implanted lens despite the bright light. She thought that eye was okay. Now I was thoroughly confused since this was all so opposite of what the optometrist had said. Next I was moved to another room to wait for the doctor. There I sat on an ill-fitting chair with my feel dangling making my Birks fall off.

The doctor was the one who had removed the cataract in November of 2007. He seemed in a hurry as he introduced himself, offered a handshake, and seemed to make a cursory glance at the papers I assume the previous woman had given him. Not only did he agree with the optometrist that the little lens was perhaps more like waxed paper now than shiny clear Saran wrap, I could tell he planned to do the procedure to correct that this very visit, which was not what I’d been told when the appointment was made months ago. He too examined my eyes with instruments and called out figures for his nurse to write down.

He asked if I had been shown the film about the painless procedure and I had not. (I guess because the woman examiner did not think I needed the procedure.) I told him I did not have anyone to drive me home. (I was already somewhat worried because of the dilation.) He said that would not matter because I would be able to see okay after this five-minute procedure. He said for me to view the film and decide if I wanted this done.

His nurse showed me the film, which clarified about as much as the dentist’s X-rays. I told her I was confused since I had just been told in the other room that I did not need this procedure. She said for me to listen to the doctors since both the optometrist and now the ophthalmologist said the same thing. So I never did understand that other person’s function in the other room.

I asked her if there were any advantage to wait since the doctor said I did not have to do it immediately. She said there was more chance of floaters if I waited. The doctor said the laser would click, click, click, and a tiny hole would then let light in. Five minutes, no pain, and then to be released to run around town and complete some errands before I met Gerald who was going over to Murphysboro with me that afternoon when I went for the skin cancer screening. Hmmm. Not having to come back for a later appointment certainly was appealing, so I followed the nurse’s advice and told the doctor to proceed.

I thought they all fibbed, because I did feel slight pain along with the click, click, clicking. Not bad enough to count I guess. Then the doctor said I could leave and come back in an hour or sit in the waiting room for them to check me in an hour. What happened to the five-minute procedure? I said I had some errands to run and would come back. I walked outside in the bright sunlight and was totally blinded. I got into the sun-warmed car which felt good since I’d frozen inside the office the past hour. But I knew I must not drive and I could not see to read, so I grabbed my suit jacket I’d fortunately stuck in for the late afternoon and went back to the lobby and went to sleep in my chair since I could not see.

An hour and ten minutes later, the woman technician (or whatever she was) came and checked the pressure in my eyes and said I could go now but would need to see the optometrist in a week or so. The receptionist offered to make that appointment and I was grateful since I was groggy from sleep and confusion and almost blind. I faced that bright outside sunlight again and wanted to clap my hands over my eyes.

Although I saw better than the previous hour, I drove very carefully to my daughter’s house stopping for a couple errands on the way and skipping the other errands. I thought I was much better until I got to Katherine’s and stepped out into the bright sunlight there. I was grateful to stumble into her much darker house. Her red rose bush was now complemented with small white iris blooming profusely, but I didn’t dare stop to pick any for a bouquet. She and her aide were shocked I hadn’t been given a pair of cardboard sunglasses as they’d had when their eyes were dilated.

I stayed there until time to meet Gerald at the agreed upon parking lot. I was very grateful that he had needed to go to Carbondale and, thus, was taking me to the skin screening. I think I could have made it, but I was not eager to drive. That efficient screening with the very nice young doctor at the hospital went very smoothly. I was seeing fine by now. I did not need to worry about the spot on my face but could watch a tiny reddish spot on the underside of my arm that I did not know I had and that might or might not be pre-cancerous. After stopping for Gerald’s errand, we came back to the home-town parking lot and I took the wheel when Gerald got back into his truck. I immediately noticed that road signs were brighter and so was the computer when I arrived back at Woodsong. I cooked us a nice supper and was glad the week was over.

The weekend has been great with phone calls, messages, visits, and even beautiful flowers from our village florist sent by the daughter upstate. Saturday afternoon Gerald and I listened to game tracker when Texas A&M won two games at Oklahoma State up at Stillwater. Best of all, we were able to hear the sweet voice of our granddaughter Erin helping the game commentator. Brian had come down to the their camper to farm this weekend. So by the time the games were over, Mary Ellen, Brianna, and Fifi had arrived at Woodsong to join him and had plans and foods for today’s dinner.  Before the weekend was over, Mary and I watched Julia and Julie, whcih she brought down for me to see.  We claimed our mothers' privilege and took over the television in the family room.

David and Sam had come to fish Saturday afternoon despite the windy weather, and Sam stayed on when he found out Brianna was here. They had the usual good time together both outside and on my computer with a writing project. But they also went with Mary Ellen to pick up sticks on a new piece of ground Brian and Mary had bought and which Gerald had cleared of unwanted growth this spring along the edge of the field by the road. Gerald had invested emotionally in clearing this, so he volunteered to take the tractor with the bucket and help. They came home tired, dirty, and hungry but proud of themselves at how much better the field looked.

I had the foresight to stop for lunch meat and side dishes at Small’s as I left town after my hair appointment, and so we all sat down to sandwiches, chips, and such, which was topped off with Mary Ellen’s banana bread. Brian came down from the other farm and stopped long enough for supper, and Mary Ellen went back to the field with him until after 1:00 this morning. David had picked up Sam, and Bri watched a movie till midnight and I told her to crawl into one of the beds here. As I understand it, Fifi took over as Brian’s companion when Mary came in to tumble in bed. Brian claimed at lunch that he did get some sleep up at the camper. I couldn’t figure out when.

I had not caught on that Gerry’s softball game at Austin, which was to be televised on ESPNU at 1:00 was EST. I envisioned us all sitting together at the table eating dinner before we headed to the family room to see the game on television. I had stuck a chicken into roast when we left for church services along with a pan of dressing. Mary Ellen had planned green beans with olive oil and in the other oven, pork steak and a large prepared corn casserole she was wanting to try out. (It was good but we all thought it too sweet—she makes it much better. The pork steak was delicious.) I had a package of fresh romaine to serve with a variety of bottled dressings. And from the fridge there were baby carrots, pickles, and olives.  Mary Ellen provided cantelope chunks and grapes, and I had bought a little cake once from Small’s and stuck it in the freezer, so I thawed that.

The game was starting soon after we came home, so we turned on the kitchen television as Mary Ellen and I put food out on the counter buffet style. I put out picnic-type trays and everyone filled theirs to go watch the game in the family room. Since David and Katherine weren’t able to make it this early, I ran in and picked up Sam to watch with us. He and I missed Wiggins’ homerun, but we saw Goler’s. It was over in five innings after Georgia got ahead 9-0, which was an important win for Georgia and Alison Owen. But tomorrow is another day, and we will be glued to the television at 6 (CST!) hoping Connie Clark’s Longhorns do not come back to give revenge. Best of all, I will not have a medical appointment all week.