I’ve gone and caught a stomach bug.

It is my opinion that there are few things that will wipe you out faster and harder than having a stomach ailment. At least, that’s been my experience today.

I am posting here just enough to say “I wrote a blog post.” Hopefully I’ll feel more like myself tomorrow, but for now, I think I’m going to go lie down.

Quick and Dirty Mom Update 4/19/2017


My wife got a call from my mother earlier tonight, something that’s highly unusual for Mom to do. Mom asked my wife if she could be outside the front door to her facility in 20 minutes to pick her up. Mom says they’re recruiting an army from the residents in her skilled nursing facility and Mom doesn’t want to be recruited into their army. We had to let her down easy by telling her that we live in Austin, Texas, which is over a thousand miles from her in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that there was no way we could be there in twenty minutes. She said she’ll “have to figure out other arrangements.”

Apparently this is pretty par for the course when Mom has a UTI, but I’ve never seen things this bad with her.

I’m not sure how much of this is the UTI and how much is the stroke.

That’s about all I have energy for tonight. For some reason I am bone tired and really want to go lie down.

A Semi-Expected Windfall


My insurance plan has a rewards program for wellness activities, such as getting an annual physical, a flu shot, and a diabetic eye exam, among other things. I try to hit all of them, not so much because there’s a reward, but because I like the idea of trying to live a long life, and given my various physical and mental illnesses, I need all the help I can get. I got a call about a month ago or so from the insurance company wanting to do what they’re calling a wellness interview. So I did it, and was told that the interview would be worth a $25 gift card. They also informed me that I had a backlog of unrequested gift cards and wanted to know if they could send them my way. I said sure, and let’s make them Barnes & Noble gift cards while we’re at it.

While I love reading, the B&N gift cards are to feed my other hobby – LEGO Architecture. The local store has a fairly good selection of LEGO Architecture kits and my plan was to get the cards in and go shopping.

So I ordered all the cards I had coming to me and then promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when I went to go check the mail for the first time in a couple weeks (between the emergency trip to North Carolina to be with Mom following her stroke and the planned trip to Arizona to be with my wife’s family, we’ve been a little busy to hit the mailbox). Lo and behold were my $25 gift cards. All four of them. My wellness activities had netted me a hundred bucks’ worth of LEGO.

So this evening we went to the Barnes & Noble and reviewed the selection, and eventually decided on only one kit – the largest one I’d ever purchased, and the second-most expensive. (I purchased Fallingwater, the crown jewel of my collection, long after it had been retired, and the price reflected the retirement.) Today’s purchase is pictured above, and it ate all but about two and a half bucks of the gift cards. Note the number of pieces in the kit. I anticipate being at this for the rest of the evening and well into tomorrow before I finish.

So I told you all that to tell you that this is going to be a short post because I have a tremendous LEGO set to build. I’ll post pictures when I’m done.

Home For Good


We flew home to Austin from Phoenix this afternoon.

It’s good to finally be home, for the foreseeable future this time.

I enjoyed the trip to Phoenix and socialized in ways I didn’t expect, experienced things that I hadn’t counted on, and had a really good time overall.

Tonight, though, I think I’m going to be looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

A lot of my streaks are a little wonky because of the changes in time zones that I’ve been experiencing over the past two weeks. They’re thankfully intact, but I think that’s something that I should bring up to the development teams on both my learning apps, and also here on WordPress (there was a post that I did after 10:00 pm on Saturday evening and WordPress is counting it as no post that day because of the two hour time difference between Texas and Arizona).

Tonight’s going to be one last short post because I’m knackered, and tomorrow it’s back to business as usual.

We Survived


Today was a pretty good day.

We started out at Mass with my wife, my mother-in-law and her husband, my brother-in-law and his wife and kids. Unbeknownst to any of us, the Mass that we’d chosen to attend was an African Mass. The service was partially, and the music was primarily, in Swahili. I was apprehensive about attending Mass since I’m not religious, but I really enjoyed the service. There were dancers whose energy was infectious. The music was absolutely lovely. The people were friendly and welcoming. It was a wonderful experience.

From there we went to my brother-in-law’s house for Easter dinner, and over the course of the evening added my father-in-law, his wife, her daughter and granddaughters, and a couple friends of my brother-in-law’s. Dinner was good and the company was enjoyable. My anxiety had me trying to stay in quiet areas most of the day, and my leg was overworked from Mass, so at one point before dinner I fell asleep on the couch. I had a good conversation with one of my brother-in-law’s friends.

I managed to work in calls to Mom, my daughter, and Kenneth, the family friend that’s looking out for my mother in North Carolina while I’m in Texas. She’s doing okay, not much change in her condition, but he was surprised to hear that I had spoken with her – we were worried that her motor skills after the stroke would have prevented her from operating her clamshell phone. I didn’t speak with her long, but I was able to wish her Happy Easter before she said that she needed to go.

Tomorrow is the flight home. I’m always a little worried about travel, especially now since I’m still going through airports in a wheelchair because of the knee, but I’ll be glad to finally be home for the foreseeable future.

Hunting Easter Eggs


Today was a little busier than yesterday. We had initially planned to have lunch with one of my wife’s relatives, but she called up and wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the café that we went to the day before yesterday for lunch. The owner is from Chicago and the walls are festooned with Chicago sports memorabilia of all sorts. I had a chicken salad Parmesan sandwich – chicken salad and provolone on Parmesan-crusted toast. It was very good. We went back to the condo and got things that we needed to carry to my brother-in-law’s in preparation for Easter dinner. On the way there, we needed to make an emergency trip to pick up some clothes that we forgot to pick up, and on the way to and from our destination, we drove past the spring training complex for the Cubs. I took as many photos as I could from the road but most of them came out blurry. I got a chance to say I saw the place, though, and that’s good enough for me.

The evening’s activities consisted of a barbecue and Easter egg hunt at a friend of my brother-in-law’s house. We had a good time and the kids seemed to have a blast. The highlight of my evening was the bubble machine and the dog. I have rarely seen a dog so happy. It was enjoying the bubbles far more than the kids were. I was also introduced to bacon mustard, and this is both a wonderful thing and a sad one, since it’s regional and nothing that I’ve seen back in Texas. Going to have to find that stuff though, because it was delicious.

Haven’t heard anything about Mom’s condition today – things were very hectic in the afternoon and I never got a chance to call Kenneth until nearly 11:00 pm Eastern time. I trust that if her condition had deteriorated any he would be on the phone telling me about it. Both of us are trying to keep a close eye on her since the stroke, and I wish I lived closer to her to be able to spend time actually with her. She seemed to improve greatly while I was in town and I’d like to be able to give her daily or near daily visits from me to be able to keep her spirits up. As it is, we can barely communicate over the phone.

Tomorrow is Easter mass at 11:00 am and Easter dinner back at my brother-in-law’s place. Once we finish with that, our social obligations will be complete for this trip, with the only socialization that we have being with my mother-in-law and her husband. Monday is the flight home.

I’ve had a surprisingly good trip, but it will be a good thing to get back home.

Low-Key Friday


Today there weren’t any big family plans, so we spent the morning taking it easy and trying to make plans with friends. We took a Lyft from Scottsdale, where we’re staying, to Chandler, to have lunch with one of our fellow DJs and his girlfriend, neither of whom we’ve ever met before. We had a fantastic lunch at a really good Italian restaurant before taking a Lyft back to the condo. I read for a while and did my learning before coming out to the living room to goof off on the computer before dinner. Dinner was a fabulous steak grilled by my mother-in-law’s husband and a lovely dinner conversation with the four of us. It’s been a very good day.

Mom continues to be up and down. Not much to update tonight, since she was sleeping whenever Kenneth would visit. He did manage to wake her up for a brief time, and she was in a decent enough mood at that point, apparently singing and dancing to music in her head. She’s not eating much, he was able to report that. Most everyone that’s caring for her thinks that her secondary infection is still persistent despite the course of broad-spectrum antibiotics that she received in the hospital, and that’s causing the confusion and disorientation and disconnection with reality. I personally think that it’s partly that and partly the stroke, but I’m three time zones away right now and don’t have any direct evidence to back that up.

Tomorrow there are plans in both the afternoon and evening, and it’s with the larger family. Sunday is, of course, going to be considerably busier, between Easter mass and Easter dinner. And then Monday will be the frenzy of traveling back home.

The trip has gone surprisingly well, despite being hectic at times. I hope it continues for the rest of the trip.

Hello from Arizona


My wife and I traveled today from Austin to Phoenix, Arizona to spend Easter weekend with her family. It’s rather pretty here. The landscape is dramatically different, but still lovely. Art is everywhere, on interstate barrier walls and underpasses, and it adds greatly to the feel of the city. Tonight we went to dinner at my brother-in-law’s house, with his wife and two kids, my mother-in-law, her husband, and my father-in-law. Tasty ribs made for a good meal. We were going to decorate Easter eggs tonight, but a tired two-year-old postponed those plans. Looking forward to that; it’s been decades since I’ve decorated Easter eggs and I imagine I’m going to have a good time doing so.

I called the hospital to get an update on Mom and was surprised to find that she’s been discharged. I called her cellphone and it went straight to voicemail, as I expected – her phone likely died and was on the charger. So I called Kenneth, our family friend that’s watching over her and left a message for him to call me. He did after a few hours. He was with Mom at her nursing facility. She was in bad shape. Moving her from the hospital to the facility disoriented her greatly, and she’s convinced that the staff is out to get her. She’s scared to death that they’re going to kill her and she spent great effort in trying to leave instructions for me “should something happen to her.” Kenneth and I did a video call, so I could see her and vice versa, and she was jumpy the whole time I was on the phone with her. Kenneth eventually stepped out of the room to give me a full report on what’s going on, and we hung up at that point, telling me that he would call me back when he got back into the room. I managed to completely eat dinner and settle for a while before he got back to me. It apparently took a while, but he and one of the staff managed to get her calmed down enough for him to leave. He said he’d be checking in on her tomorrow morning before work, and that we’d touch base sometime tomorrow to give me an update. Kenneth has a massive amount of things that he’s dealing with right now, and he’s an absolute saint to be spending so much time with Mom.

Updates from Arizona will likely be short, since we are going to have a busy schedule while we’re here and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have day to day.

All Good Things …


… must come to an end. I forgot to take my blood pressure last night. My streak of achieving full marks on my checklist has been broken. I made it 84 straight days, almost three whole months. During that streak I kept it alive during days when I was particularly busy, and even did so during an emergency trip to North Carolina to be with my mother in intensive care. I’m very proud of that streak, and I’m sad that it’s ended.

However, this means that the pressure to maintain a long streak during the Phoenix trip is over, although I’m still going to make every effort to keep it going. If I don’t get to something due to family obligations, I don’t get to it. But when I come home from Phoenix, I can begin working in earnest on a new streak.

There was a point in time when it seemed that achieving full marks was nearly an impossibility. My mind told me that it was hard, and so I treated it like it was hard. It’s a challenge, to be sure. It’s not always easy to come up with something to write as a blog post, for instance. But this streak of 84 days has taught me that it isn’t necessarily hard – just challenging. And I can use a little challenge in my life.

More Medical Updates


I went to the doctor today to get my knee looked at, prior to the Phoenix trip on Thursday. She agrees with my assessment that there’s no real damage to it, that I just banged it up pretty hard, and that all will work itself out without issue. She’s cleared me to take off the knee immobilizer and do away with the crutches conditionally. If my knee starts to feel like it’s trying to give way, I’m to put the brace back on and use the crutches. As a result, both will be making the trip with me to Phoenix. She’s also cleared me to fly, but wants me to take advantage of wheelchair service in the airports to minimize the chances of overusing my knee. The good part of this is that it means priority boarding here in Austin, although it’s still a bit iffy whether we’ll be able to grab the bulkhead seats or not.

I spoke with Mom’s nurse today. She says they did the Doppler test of Mom’s carotid artery today but the results haven’t yet been read, so I’ll be waiting for that tomorrow. Mom’s had a tiring day – occupational therapy had her sitting in her chair for a while, and that wore her out, and as a result she had a spell where she was anxious and crying. The medication that they had been using at night to get her to sleep better has been re-prescribed to be taken as needed, so they gave her a dose of that a little while before I called. I asked to speak with Mom if she was awake, which she was, but she was barely so, so my conversation with her was short, and she fell asleep with me on the phone before I could wake her up to hang up with me. She wasn’t nearly as coherent today as she was last night, something that I chalk up to the medication and the activity of the day. (She was nice enough to wish me Merry Christmas, though, and it was all I could do not to reply “And a convivial Tuesday in April to you too, Pool!” I might have watched Deadpool one too many times.) I imagine there will continue to be a series of steps forward and back for Mom before all is said and done, but it was still a little discouraging to hear her regress from where she was last night.

Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day trying to pack for a flight once more. Not much looking forward to it, but it beats flying with the clothes on my back. Blog updates might be short from Thursday to Sunday, since I don’t know if we’re going to have room to set up the laptops in Phoenix and blogging from my phone is a little tedious, but we’ll see what happens.