Archive for October, 2008

health records

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I was able to retrieve David’s medical records as a hard copy. Many pages, but the shocking part is that I had to pay $88 to have them.

They provide 30 pages for free, so I could have just gone every day until we were up to date. But that many visits plus the continuous addition would send me on way too many adventures to North Campus.

I think the pricing is way off (once you get past a point it is just .22 per page, but pages 30-50 are over a dollar each). It should not only be encouraged, but provided for free.

The staff couldn’t have been more pleasant and real and friendly and helpful. But I think there are many things wrong with how this is being handled.

riding around in the automobile (or really truck)

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I was surprised to see a sign “I’m a Bitter Gun Owner and I Vote” on my way out to Chelsea today. I don’t have to guess which party line they will support. But I guess I’m surprised that someone would want to advertise that to the world driving by.

I will soon being riding around in a high mileage automobile. The time (and the car) are getting closer. I found a way to track the actual car now, it just left Germany headed for Belgium, England, then either to New York or Maryland as a final landing. Then an overland trip to Bloomfield Hills MI.

So — it arrives in NY on Nov. 10, Maryland the 12th. So I suppose it will be available to pick up a week or less after that! So the 14th maybe the earliest possible date, sometime the week of the 17th is much more likely. Wow. Something fun and wonderful to look forward to.

My Blue Smart For Two is on the way, after nearly 11 months of waiting. I filled up the truck with gas on Sunday, it was $49. Cheapest it has been for a very long time (there must be an election coming up, no?). And hopefully the last tank of gas this year. That feels very good to write! In the winter I go through a tank in a month or more. So …. it could be!

I’m going to enjoy this car.

oh, modern medicine….

Monday, October 27th, 2008

i thought that getting a full copy of David’s medical records would be pretty easy. My thought was that we should have a hard copy, and also have a chance to review everything. David isn’t sleeping, is on some heavy duty painkillers, and may not be catching all the details of what is happening and what the medical staff is finding.

I let him know that that was my idea, and he had a filled out request when I got to the hospital this afternoon. It had taken a bit of investigation just to get that far. He said if I took it to the nursing station they would tell me where to go to get the copies.

I was sent down to teh basement, B1, and that it was near the ER. I got all the way to the ER and they sent me back. There were no signs though. I ended up in Environmental Services and they told me that medical records doesn’t exist anymore. But if I knocked on the door of where they used to be someone might be able to tell me what to do.

Hmmm. I found the door they pointed to, with a big sign saying CLOSED. The obvious question – why didn’t the people on the fourth floor or the ER know that they were closed?

But the weirdest thing – I had to go to North Campus to get the copies. So, if I was a patient in the hospital who couldn’t make it to North Campus? And why didn’t anyone know this? And doesn’t this question come up often?

When I got back to the fourth floor they couldn’t have been nicer, faxing the info over to the number, and giving me directions. But what a screwy system that discourages patients from getting their own health info, and is probably traced back once again to HIPPA and the stupid regulations to protect confidentiality that end up interfering with patient care and convenience.

I will report the continuing saga tomorrow.

I’m so glad that modern medicine is helping to save David’s life, very directly very clearly. Bu some of the things you go through, some of the errors made, some of the not getting it, it is hard to be around day after day after day after day.

It is a very imperfect system, which does very well considering. But like any business, some of what goes on is just really stupid, obstructionist, and not helpful.


Friday, October 24th, 2008

It has been a long week. The anniversary of Zomba’s death was this week, a time for honoring her overshadowed by concern with my brother’s major surgery that was moved up a week. Spending time each day at the hospital. Yesterday he was still in ICU, having trouble stabilizing the basic measurable things. Including the heart.

Hanging out at hospitals is hard, but I certainly am used to it. The many tricks to the art of being normal in abnormal settings. Making it work the best you can.

I’m teaching three classes this week – the med school classes are a stretch for me with the power points and talking about research rather than direct experience. Not in my comfort zone at all. Today it is just me, Suzie is at the American Herbalist Guild Conference, so I need to struggle through on my own. Making the salves is easy — the rest I would rather change but we need to talk about evidence.

But that is a lot of outgoing energy – combined with seeing clients and continuing work on moving and rearranging not just one or two but essentially four rooms in the house. Chaos is a good word, but it is the chaos preceding significant order and cleanliness.

But in the meantime the broken things and things needing to be fixed take their toll, the dishwasher is OK I think, the garage roof needs something before winter, the vacuum is replaced with a worthless Eureka and now I’ve gone out and bought a new used electolux that is just a beautiful and fully functional relic…

The damage form the last painter still looms, no storms on the windows yet (frames taken down for painting) I need to clear the furnace area and do the annual maintenance on that, plants ot put to bed, the list is long. So I guess I should get up and get started for today.

I decided to have people over for dinner because it generally recharges me – but that may have been a miscalculation. And I expect this will last a long time, David’s recovery will be a few months, and he needs a lot more support than is currently in place.

And all of that is great cover for the deeper concerns about the intelligence of the American voters. Which has not been so great the last eight years. What doe sit take to really shift that and come up with a reasonable response?

I think we’re there.

But I’m tired.

weird endorsement

Friday, October 24th, 2008

This is one of the strangest endorsements I’ve seen yet. But sort of fun.

about all I can take

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I’ve been getting 15-20 e-mails a day now (including duplicates) asking for money or telling me again how important the upcoming election is, or asking for help volunteering. It is just too much. The message presented this way, I can take. The rest is getting deleted.

being excluded/being included

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Yesterday David had his long awaited open-heart surgery. What was supposed to be a triple bypass turned into a quadruple. There are so many factors that come into play with an event like this – very real life/death intruding on the normal everyday. Although David hasn’t had much normal for the last year.

I do like to be there at the hospital when major surgery is happening. I can hold space, I can be removed from my routine and contemplate life and death, and sometimes I can do something. Make decisions, relay information. And also just be supportive – people coming together is comforting. But in a family that includes Asperger’s, that isn’t actually considered to be normal. So things can get a little inside out, to put it mildly. On the day my mom died, my dad insisted that we should all stay home as it was over now. Huh? Well it makes sense to us now.

But hang out at the hospital, we did. A small group of people. Alex – David’s daughter, Devin her long time boyfriend, and his good friends Russ and Leslie. And me.

I taught a class next door from 10-12, so I came right after the class, as well as checking for messages during. The family waiting area for the new cardiovascular hospital is very nice, lovely multi story atrium along the corridor, and groups of chairs and couches with some physical separation. No TV we noted happily, and some on and off background music. They surveryes us on how we felt about the music.

Many bad jokes and interesting conversation. Devin and I were downstairs eating when the surgeon came out around 1:30 to say all was well.

Two hours later we still hadn’t seen him, the short wait became long because his blood pressure was so low. We finally got about a 30 second visit, but we were ushered out and told we could spend more time later. He looked about as good as you can under the circumstances – but that is never a good luck with multiple tubes and tape and fluids running in and out and a weird cold color to the body.

I was quick to wash and put my hands on his feet, so very little life or presence. It must be so odd to have so frequent contact with bodies that are not really present. I like working on people who can be so present and warm.

Sometime after 4, I ended up chatting with the receptionist some more. She had been hedging on his condition, and I let her know I was OK with truth – and taught at the med school. That usually creates a total change in how you are treated – Oh, so I can be real with you and not protect you! You’re one of us!

Like it or not, that is what it is. So she was asking more about my work and training. I confessed that I would really like to be with David and work on him as well as letting the nursing staff do their thing. She said she thought that was a great idea and she’d check to see if it was possible. OK.

Alex came over and I told her what was up, and sure enough, they let us both in. Very good timing, as David was awake and experiencing the worst things imaginable for him – a tube down his throat, the sensation of being choked, and totally unable to do anything about it.

So we were with him for the next hour, I think helping him get through that horror.

And this is the really bad part, an Asperger’s person may under-react to a situation, causing the people around to not get how much pain/discomfort/anxiety etc. they are in. The nurse remarked after how well he did – some people try to jump out of bed, flail around, etc. And of course they look for and respond to those extreme cues. David didn’t have that.

Now I’m not at all confident that any of that would have sped things up — but I’m also not settled with how well we conveyed his experience of torture. Because we tend to underplay as well, Alex and I. Assuming that people will take our words seriously. But they don’t always. Yelling and screaming and flailing around gets a lot more attention. But if we had escalated we also would have been kicked out.

But I was there because I had asked to do energy work on him. And welcomed to do what I could do. And being INCLUDED because of my work rather than EXCLUDED is still a rather new and remarkable thing.

So now I’m off to visit him this AM. But a number of important things happened yesterday, and not just a (we hope) life saving procedure. i hope worth sharing more broadly.

preparing for winter

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I’ve been in major food prep mode. Earlier in the week, I went out to Chelsea and began the final harvest there. I picked ground cherries, the plan is to make them into chutney.

I picked chives, and dried them in the oven. They have a wonderful fresh grassy oniony smell.

I dug horseradish. Made horseradish. It is so amazingly strong – it doesn’t just clear your sinuses, it mangles your brain. I toned it down with a bit of pickled burdock – just had a strong feeling that is what it needed. It is potent. I have a half pint of amazingly strong and wonderful healthy horseradish!!

I picked squash. There were the tiniest cutest little ones, that I saved, and ate this past weekend while camping. I had about 6 larger ones, so I made them up in a rice dish with peppers and cumin and the rest of the dried bergamont. In the freezer.

I dug up some yellow dock root, turned into yellow dock oil which is a wonderful tissue healer.

I dug up some garlic and onions. I’ll go through them later in the week.

I picked lots and lots of greens – dinosaur kale and russian kale. It turned into 3 quarts of blanched greens that are now in the freezer. I barely touched what is there, so I should be able to freeze four or five more gallons. I’ll just wait until they get that first frost that makes them extra sweet.

You can bet my truck smelled interesting on the way home!!

Friday I helped one of many many friends named Laura do her final harvest. I took most of the greens to store in the outdoor refrig, and had time to start the processing today. First the beets, a large pile of beets and just under three quarts of greens. 4 quarts of dinosaur kale, a few of other greens, a bunch of chard, and a small batch of chickweed. I was too tired to get to the collards and onions (I’ll dry them) and we just split the carrots – she’ll make baby food. The carrots are divine, and Nala stole one to eat in the living room, dirt and all. I also am building up a pile of yellow dock for more pesto. Gary took a bunch of basil during the harvesting, and spent time picking out leaves to process at his house.

I’ll use the leeks for soup this Friday. I made two pumpkin pies, haven’t tried them yet, but freezing one of them will happen tomorrow. I made a partial inventory as I transferred food from the upstairs freezer to teh chest freezer in the basement. Almost 6 gallons of berries, mostly black raspberries. I’ve got lots of blues upstairs, and I’ve already been adding them to my oatmeal.

I have dozens of wild apples still waiting for processing, I hope to have time to just slice them and freeze them fro cobblers and crisps and pies later.

So I’m feeling pretty well stocked. And there is so much still to come!

I wish I knew of some tricks for storing raw milk – but so far cheese is the only option. I’d like to try using the root cellar to age some hard cheese. Now that would be fabulous.

another canoe trip

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

This weekend was yet another quick but wonderful canoe trip. Local, one overnight, and this time with Gary’s kids and Nala. The weather was cool and crisp and sunny – perfect for camping and no bugs.

We started off late Friday and drove to a nearby campsite. A quickly prepared dinner at the campsite, stir fry with rice. We embarked in the dark with two tandem canoes, and Nala joined Gary and I in one. It was a quiet night, the moon hadn’t yet risen, and we had a nice paddle through twisting and turning channels between lakes. I knew there were lovely fall colors in the dark, but all we could see was shadows and trees and grasses.

There was a pair of swans in one part of the lake, we stayed far away so the Nala would be calm in the boat. We found the camp site on a hill over the lake, and set up in the dark. Just a little exploring was possible. Being able to wake up in a strange place and explore was something to look forward to in the morning.

In the night the moon rose, and although leaving the warmth of sleeping bags and company is hard, I was glad to go outside and appreciate the moon on the trees above, just past full.

It was a beautiful morning, and we were all late rising, but soon had oatmeal ready and were able to enjoy the lovely setting in full sunlight. The day unfolded as we looked around, Gary and his daughter were focused on collecting autumn olive berries and hickory nuts. I could smell sweet grass in the wetlands below us, but never found the actual grass. Irene also found a GeoCache in the hollow of a tree- a jar filled with small treasures, a secret for those with GPS or a sharp eye like hers.

Meanwhile, Peter and I found a sassafras tree and sampled a bit of lower bark. Highlights of the day included an unsuccessful try at starting a fire with a bow and tinder (lots of smoke, no fire), Nala jumping in to the swamp but also just having a great time following scents and smells. We tried having her off leash but she would wander away – only to come bounding back if we told her she could have FOOD!

Gary made a berry and apple filled cake for lunch, napping around the campsite as it cooked, I was suddenly startled to hear a change in sound and heat – the area around the small camper’s stuff had caught fire. My sudden call out resulted in a quick response from sleeping Gary and lunch was rescued, as well as the extra fire out in seconds. It was a very good cake.

We went on a longer joint hike after lunch, more collecting and enjoying the day. Nala wore her new back pack carrying water and cookies for us. It was fun to watch her be a working dog. We wandred into the marshy area. Gary telling jokes in a bad french accent from up in a tree as we searched or a dry spot to stand on was something to remember.

We struck camp while Gary and Irene cracked nuts. This time we canoed back with a lovely later afternoon light, and it was a wonderful paddle. Again Nala was calm and well behaved (and exhausted from all the walking and smelling and fun). She sat in the boat with her new scooby doo life vest, and was content. She even lay down a few times, head resting on the edge of the canoe, and was cute as can be.

Gary guided the canoe to a patch of wild rice, a thrill for me as I’ve never seen rice growing before. It was past season, but a few kernels could be found and I ate them out of hand. A lovely nutty crunchy flavor.

The trees read and orange and brown and orange and everything in between were full and wonderful, at their peak both for the day as well as the season. That late afternoon light is so wonderful it is as if it has texture as well as color.

We made it back to the camp ground, and enjoyed cooking and eating dinner on the large dock. Fajitas with tortillas, with many of the sweet peppers I had gotten at the Farmer’s market earlier in the week. Messy and tasty. Nala slept in the car the whole time, and missed dinner completely.

Just about 26 hours later I was back home, happy and tired and absolutely wanting to do that again.

Batman and election tactics

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

I was a fan, back in the ’60s, of the Batman show. I didn’t get the subtle adult humor at the time, now it seems rather brilliant. And this piece featured here? Ahead of its time.