Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Vote for Obama

As you can see, even Frances in her wheelchair is putting out the word for Obama. She's now registered to vote in NM and we're just waiting for her absentee ballot.

The bumper sticker came from a little old fellow full of energy who came into the Eye Associates waiting room during mom's two-hour wait for the doctor last Friday. He waved a handful of stickers, asking if anyone wanted one. No one spoke up. Then he walked around the room and first one person then another took one. In the end he had given half of them away.

I would have to say that Obama bumper stickers outnumber McCain maybe 8 to 1 in Albuquerque. Frances' social worker, who lives a half mile from us, thinks that McCain yard signs outnumber Obama ones. Perhaps its a supply problem. An Obama-Biden sign is now up in a neighbor's yard, but I haven't seen a McCain one in the entire neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Frances was awake when I got home, ate a reasonable dinner (heavy on the mashed potatoes), and then stayed up to watch all two hours of Dancing with the Stars. Kathy has been going through the boxes shipped out from Myrtle Beach. Buddha lamps, Lion King dolls, Fido, and Cousin Middle Schlepp have all come to light.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Pleasant Sunday

Cousin Kathy got the day off as Caro and I stayed home. I mostly worked on podcasts for my CSF class while Caro got a rare opportunity to putter around in her garden. Terrance was out in the Hidden Garden in the AM but disappeared, probably into the Vinca in the PM.

Frances ate a goodly sized bowl of Cream of Wheat for breakfast, napped a bit, and then was energetic enough to take the airs on the back porch for a late lunch. She wolfed down three of these delectible salmon pinwheels from the Co-op, which is a pretty good meal for her these days.

For dinner we finished off last Monday's turkey, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. The highlight was fresh green beans cooked with Greek spices. Frances ate all of hers.

Today she has been engaged and spoke to me of the odd feeling of packing up in Myrtle Beach--leaving clothes and possessions behind that she would never see again. She's had no pain and only used a minimum of drugs today.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The day before yesterday, at the nurse's suggestion, we used a 1/2 dose of Ativan to deal with Frances' late night coughing spell. That plus another early in the morning did make it easier for her to breath, but even at those low doses, she slept completely through the day, didn't eat, and barely took any water. She never got up, only moved with lots of assistance, was unresponsive to questions, and didn't take part in any conversations. Basically, Ativan just gorked her out for an entire day and a night.

The bottom line is that for palliative care, someone with low body weight and depressed appetite, ativan may be too much of a downer, especially with its synergistic effects when combined with narcotics. Frances is using a low dose of morphine and this may be contributing to the significant effects that Ativan is having on her.

Today, 24 hours post-Ativan, she woke at a normal hour and ate a home-made ham-and-egg biscuit plus one of the koulourakia I baked last night. She's napped much of the afternoon, but this is an improvement over yesterday.

Around 3:00 she woke up, had a big cup of decaf and another of my koulourakia. The photo above shows the three-C's: coffee, cat, and koulourakia (well, two C's and a K).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Voter Registration

Today Frances was up for a hearty breakfast of and even sampled my Chocolate Malto-Meal. Later the AmberCare nurses assistant came and help Miss Frances with a shower, dressing, and all. Then the nurse stopped in around noon. Finally, the social worker came over to give her her voter registration and absentee ballot forms.

In addition, there was a harp serenade. I continue to be impressed by AmberCare's thoroughness and professionalism.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frances Update

Today was a better day. Social worker came from AmberCare first thing. She's going to try to get us special passes for access to the Balloon Fiesta, one of Frances' dreams.

Frances spent some time out in the garden today and had more appetite than yesterday. She was up and alert when I got home from teaching my evening class at the College of Santa Fe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Circle of Life

Its the autumnal equinox, a time when I am reminded of the cycles of nature. This year as summer gives way to fall, I am very acutely aware of the cycles--we're hospicing Caro's Aunt Frances. She is in the end stages of pancreatic cancer.

For the last month, Caro and her cousin Kathie (Frances' daughter) have been in Myrtle Beach, caring for her. To our surprise, after a fairly energetic walk in the neighborhood, Frances' said she'd like to go to NM.

After much discussion with the hospice people at both ends and a frantic weekend of modifying the back bedroom to accommodate our new guest, Kathie and Frances flew out (first class with 1-stop in ATL). She arrived last Wednesday (the night I have to teach at CSF) and since then we've been dealing with all the myriad details of her care. From the photo you can see that she has her good moments.

On Thursday my cousin Hank and Norma stopped by for dinner. They'd been in Denver to visit his brothers and then toured CO before touching base with all the relatives in NM. Being a doctor and a nurse, they had excellent advice for Frances care.

Last night she was moving well, walking just with the walker, and ate a fair bit of a turkey dinner. Today she is breathing shallow and fast after having a coughing problem in the night. Unlike yesterday, she hasn't gotten up for breakfast. She had a similar coughing episode on Saturday, but it passed by noon before the hospice nurse arrived. Hope this passes soon.