Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nothing to see here...

Nothing to see here—move along, folks. Show’s over. I’m out of the hospital and safely home. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I had a racing pulse and a heart flopping around like a freshly caught sunfish twisting on a boat dock. By the time I got to the electrophysiologist’s office, everything was fine. The car always runs great when the mechanic drives it. On Friday night, the heart palpitations returned. The moment my head hit the pillow, it took off again. I decided to sleep through it and see how I felt in the morning.

On Saturday morning, Kathy and I debated about whether or not to call the doctor, and finally I did leave a message with her service. After talking to the service, then a nurse then a couple of “fellows” (fellows in an academic sense, not goodfellas sense) from the hospital, they sent me to the ER at Parma hospital. They took me right away of course, slapped the EKG leads on me and then parked my butt in an ER cubicle down the hall. Four hours later I was admitted.

One of the EP’s from the practice came and tuned me out of the PVC blues by using my pacemaker. He then prescribed an additional medication to control the arrhythmia and kept me overnight. I was discharged Sunday afternoon at 2pm. The hospital chaplain spilled the beans in the sacristy before 9am Mass t one of my friends and then the word went out through my network. He came to see me just as I was leaving. Mostly he talks about his own problems when he comes to visit you in the hospital, which is kind of funny. Today he was having back problems from trying to move fifty bank boxes of books to a different rectory.

So, we’ll see how it goes with the new pills.

Good news—my landscaping project in the front yard seems to be working as planned. We’ve got little green shoots all over the place. I felt like a farmer fretting about the crops and weather, nursing the lawn along.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Green green grass of home

It is finished. It took me about twelve hours over the last week, dozens of garbage bags, 1200 pound of dirt, 400 square feet of the grass patch stuff and about $85, but it’s done. Our front yard, that is. Since the blue spruce came down a week and a half ago, I’ve been working on clearing out the debris and preparing the ground for new grass. Today I dumped all the dirt (four trips to Lowe’s) and spread lime and then sprinkled the patch stuff over half the lawn. Now I just have to keep it watered for the next couple of weeks and we’ll have new grass just like that.

Next door neighbor Joe kept bringing me helpful tools while I was working, including a couple of picks that were very handy for chopping the giant roots left behind, and a seventeen pound pry bar to encourage them to let go and pop out of the ground. He has also been thinking about ways to “improve” my new snow blower, including cutting the cables on the safety controls. I graciously declined, but then he came back with an idea that might actually be helpful—tying down the auger control so I use that hand to direct the chute. Promises to be a very interesting winter season.

Max popped out of his father’s car the other day when I was working on the yard and announced that he wanted to help. He went into the house for dinner and an hour later he came out as I was putting my tools away. He and Shane went right to it though and did a nice job cleaning up the rest of the mess. Kathy gave him a dollar for his help and he was all excited saying, “Now I can buy a lottery ticket!”

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Without her

I spend the night in the chair
Thinking she’ll be there but she never comes
And then I wake up and wipe the sleep from my eyes
And I rise to face another day without her.

It’s just no good any more
When you walk through the door of an empty room
And you go inside and set a table for one
It’s no fun when you spend the day without her.
(Harry Nilsson, “Without Her”, 1971)

Thirty-five years ago, Kathy and I were living in Illinois. Our daughter was only a few months old. I was in graduate school (a move that didn’t pay off for another twelve years, but I didn’t know that at the time). Kathy was working in a hospital, but even so, we were on food stamps. She was desperately homesick, so when we drove back to Ohio to visit her parents at Easter in 1973, she announced that she and Ann would remain with her parents and that I was to go back to Illinois and finish that degree just as fast as I could.

Harry Nilsson hit it on the head for me back then, and he still does even now.

I sent Kathy and her two sisters to The Ritz for her birthday weekend. They left on Friday and should be back any time now. Turns out this time alone gave me pause. What will it be like if she precedes me in death? I obsessed about that on Friday, leaving work a little late (Kathy hates that) and stopping at the grocery store on the way home (she also hates that).

We have befriended one of the women who work around the cash registers, you know—the one who runs around OKing wine and cigarette sales and fixing problems with the computer. Jackie noticed I was alone and she asked about Kathy, concerned that she was OK. I reassured her that she was out having a wonderful time at the hotel. Jackie patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s a good time for you to have some ‘alone’ time.” Still, I was dogged by the thought that being alone could be a permanent thing.

Finally, on Saturday morning I shook off those thoughts and concentrated on doing other things that Kathy hates: going to the big box hardware store, going to the local hardware store, working on things around the house that make her nervous, banging on things that needed banging on, generally enjoying myself.

I walked down to the end of our street to the Ariens dealer and put down a deposit on a big honkin’ snow thrower that I’d coveted for years. This thing has six forward speeds, two reverse (why do you need two reverse speeds?), a six horsepower engine and a 24” wide auger. For the cognoscenti, it’s a two stage machine with an overhead valve engine. Bring it on, baby, I’m ready for anything.

Now Kathy is back, tired and happy, full of tales about their adventures in the big city. It seems they thoroughly enjoyed themselves, living it up on the Club floor with fabulous hors d'oeuvres, tempting martinis and a sweeping view of the river. Gosh it’s good to have her home.