What Happens to People with Uranium Poisoning

The effects of the poisoning are often extremely violent both suddenly physically and emotionally.  For instance; dateline this morning at 4:02 a.m. – I awoke to hearing Richard vomiting in the toilet.  His retching was strong and violent along with tears.  Grabbing a washcloth, I wet it down and held it to his forehead with another one on the back of his neck.  With my third arm I grabbed a clean towel (didn’t know I had one, did you?).  Laying the towel over his back, I re-wet a wash cloth and cleaned his face.  The retching doesn’t stop for about 10 to 15 minutes.  I murmer encouragement and put a little Gold Bond powder on Richard’s back. 

***

With my fourth hand I muddle through the pill drawer and locate a diazapam and two light-duty sleeping pills.  Oh, yes, and three Lomotil….because at this point, Richard certainly can’t take any Tincture of Opium.  He is back and forth on the toilet with tears and hurting badly. 

***

He cries just like I do when an attack hits – man, woman, child, adult…this is hell.  After about 30 minutes, the effects wane, and Richard settles back down into the bed uneasily – worrying a little that he’s going to begin throwing up again.  I hold him and talk softly to him … hoping that he can settle down soon.

***

We worry a lot about running out of medicines to calm the gut and our emotions.  You do what you must.  Sometimes we just lay on the bed or on the floor and rock . . . and yes, we pray.

***

Knowing that the pain and hurt isn’t going away – – this is our life; settles into our heart — it hurts.  We have each other to take each other: that’s it. That hurts too.

***

We love each other and we care for each other.  How grateful we are for each other.  It will never get better. 

***

Just two days ago I was in the same boat as Richard.  And, he was here for me.

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Memory Bears

 
I hope that you will drop by here to find out about Bonnie’s Memory Bears…
 
Here’s my letter to my sister-in-law this morning…  but before you read it, here’s a little background…Richard and I have returned to Quartzsite, Arizona.  This little “town” is more or less a wide spot in the road between Phoenix and Los Angeles.  Not much goes on here for about 9 months out of the year.  But, then for 3 months each year, the place is filled to the brim with RVers – trailers, Fifth Wheelers, campers and hundreds of thousands of people – trading, bartering, and selling/buying rocks.  It’s a lot of fun for so many people.
 
Richard and I have come back to Quartzsite for the last of our days.  Call it the “boomerang” effect or whatever, it’s appropriate we live out what we have left here where we know the washes, the valley of the saquaroes, where the best cold beer is and when the best time is to drop by Silly Al’s for a good home-made pizza.  We keep in touch with our family and friends on this blog mostly…and we watch out for each other.  We wish we had more time left, but with the poisoning running around through our systems the way it has, the loss of weight, and everything else, it’s painfully obvious our days are numbered not by years anymore.  Here’s this morning’s letter to my sister-in-law and good friend…
 
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Good morning Angela – when you’re through reading this email, click on the link above and you’ll meet Bonnie – she makes bears for people who have lost someone who they loved – usually made from the material of something like a blanket or piece of clothing that the person wore and loved.  She calls them “Memory Bears.”  I follow her blog.  At first I thought it seemed a bit nutty, but as I read her blog, I began to understand that it’s a unique “ministry” such as Bonnie calls it – – and can really help children all the way to old people in keeping the memory of someone we love alive in our hearts…
 
Herc's Quilt

Herc's Quilt

After all these years, as you know, I still have hung on to Hercs patchwork blanket that we got him when Herc was here between January 1st and the day he died.  Towards the end of January there was an auction and potluck held out at the little park across the street from the Quartzsite Town Hall.  We all went because it was a chamber event and as director of the chamber of commerce, I had “duty” whenever there was an event that the chamber sponsored.

 
It was a beautiful day out, with a typical small town potluck . . . the tables were filled with tons of casseroles, homemade salads, deviled eggs, and a big BBQ.  During lunch we were entertained by a kind of homely bunch doing country music (remember; I didn’t have much to chose from here!).  At 4 p.m. sharp,  the auction began. 
 
You know, I think that’s the last time I saw Herc really eat much or smile – –  it was one of those recognizably “good days” – he ate quite a bit, and you could tell he was relaxed and enjoying the sun and outdoors that afternoon at the park. 
 
By then, most of the town people knew Herc and he was dying of cancer, and he had made quite a few friends in the community. You know Herc…he was usually on first name basis with anyone he met within hours of meeting…
 
Herc's Quilt and "Deli" the Cat

Herc's Quilt and "Deli" the Cat

It was an afternoon of smiles, pats on the back, handshaking between neighbors, and just a darned good day in many ways.

 
When the auction started, your brother (and my crazy husband!) Richard was on one side of the bandstand and I was on the other.  A patchwork blanket came up for auction that was made by Hercs cousin’s sister-in-law (one of the Sanderson’s relatives).  I started bidding on it, several other people bid on it, and a guy on the other side of the bandstand were all bidding on it…I was determined to get that damned blanket, so I just kept the bidding going until it got ridiculously high.  And, I won the item. 
 
The reason I wanted that patchwork quilt was because I wanted to give it to Herc.  He needed something “personal” in the room he had at our place, and since he was usually laying around on the couch or in bed, I thought that quilt was perfect for him. 
 
Once I won the quilt, it was time to “pay the piper.”  Herc went over with me when I walked over to pay for it and pick it up at the end of the auction.  I turned around and handed it to him and told him to consider it his because, it was our gift to him and I knew he didn’t want anyone else to have it because it was made by his family (small darned world . . . we had commented on that several times!).
 
Herc’s eyes swelled up with tears of thanks, and we hugged.  Seconds later, Richard showed up, stomping mad.  “I bid on that quilt, and some lady on the other side of the bandstand got it…I really wanted to get it for Herc,” he whined.  Just then he noticed Herc and saw that Herc had the quilt in his hands.  The light dawned for Richard, and he realized “that lady” he bid against was me all along!  We all got a good laugh about it, and Herc treasured that blanket to the night he died.
 
Through the last 15 years we have held onto the blanket.  Today I’m feeling just a little selfish about it.  I’m thinking of parts of that quilt being made into memory bears for family might be just the right thing.  Perhaps we could use some  Memory Bears to remind us all that Herc had a soft side to him, and share in keeping his important memory alive. 
 
What do you think?  Shall we do it?  I have a feeling that you’ll say “yes.”
 

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

 

Today, being Easter Sunday, I did a little morning reading about some of the traditions and background of this day of celebration.  It’s expressed beautifully right here – http://www.fisheaters.com/customseastertide2.html

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There is much symbolism to this feast day.  I really enjoyed reading about it and learning about an important event such as this — the history and images are fascinating.  The twelve chains tying Satan down throughout the year was a particularly interesting part of the story. Much of the symbolism is very beautiful – such as the butterfly, lilies and decorated eggs.  Each symbol has history and meaning to it…give yourself a little time today and find out about the history of this celebration!

– – – –

I’m definitely not a Catholic, but years ago I had a most unique job as the director of marketing for St. Vincent de Paul Charities in Phoenix.  I felt honored to have the job – and was amazed that they paid me a darned good wage to do the work.

– – – –

I set up television and radio interviews, developed marketing materials for charity events, planned and carried out the charity events, collected monies from more than a few “big wigs” of Phoenix, and generally just made sure that St. VIncent de Paul in Phoenix had the funding to continue feeding and caring for the poor in the community. 

– – – –

helping people in our neighborhood

Helping hands - we can all be here for our neighbors and the needy

Today is Easter Sunday and many people will be sitting down to a feast with their family.  I hope that as we do this, we all remember the people in our neighborhood and in our lives who are in need at this very moment.

– – – –

Send a good thought and blessing out to them – or take it just a step further, and donate your afternoon to serving food or cleaning up at a St. Vincent de Paul shelter near you.

– – – –

If you seriously want to do what is needed, you’ll look around and find something meaningful that YOU can do to help others through an organization in your area…

– – – Happy Easter Sunday to everyone!  Make this a day in which you can help another person and add just a little more meaning to our own lives while we’re at it!

Managing Pain

The finger

The finger

Ever been in your doctor’s office or patient exam room and noticed a sign that asks you where your pain level is – 1 through 10 – 10 being the highest?  So, where do you rate your pain when you are sitting there with two 50 MG opium patches, drink tincture of opium 4 times a day, and take that new opiate that claims to be 100 percent stronger than morphine?  Oh, let’s not forget Lortab, Vicodan, Diazapam, and 2 or 3 other drugs for pain management…

– – –

Richard had to go to the local clinic here today, and much to his surprise, he was “ORDERED” to provide the RX bottles of all medicines that he takes (there are now over 19 different pills a day.)  He left 1/2 hour later after refusing to join in their mandated and required “pain management program,” with a $110.00 bill paid to see a nurse practitioner.  How crazy is that?  Ironically, we are presently living in an elderly “community” with all elderly people who most are within 6 months to 1 year left to live.  (I would bet on that last statement!)

– – –

Here’s the “good” part:  The reason Richard went to the clinic is that it appeared that he got a bite from a critter that left a bruise and it wasn’t going away.  And pain management for a  terminal disease has WHAT to do with a bite from a desert critter?  Whatever this clinic’s attitude is about pain management – it’s completely invasive and rude.  So, unless he breaks an arm or something that needs set in a cast, he’s not going back.  I have to laugh at their concept of “PAIN MANAGEMENT” and patient “care.”  It is a joke. 

– – –

There is nothing in the world that could be considered pain management with the attitude of what Richard described to me today.  The nurse practitioner had no idea and did not ask about his current medical situation, who his family doctor was, and didn’t lay a hand on him.  Her mission apparently consisted of making certain that every patient she saw was to ensure the patient didn’t take any medicines to help alleviate pain.

– – –

Dying with Dignity.  “Sure thing,” I snort cynically – .  How does one die with dignity in horrendous pain and agony?  Zen “humming” doesn’t do it!  I know, because I’ve tried that one too. 

– – –

What a crock.  I wish for the nurse practitioner to walk (limp) in our shoes for a couple of days.  I guarantee this one will never help relieve the wicked pain of a cancer patient, someone who fell off a rooftop while working…the list can go on and on. I feel kinda’ sorry for the nurse practitioner, because she is being trained to work with patients and appears to be way out of her depth of knowledge and understanding.

– – –

We are not teaching reality to the students in school.  What’s happening at home – what’s happening to our caring for each other?  Do we?  If not, why?

 

Life Review

As the days of our lives begin to slow dance, many of us have the opportunity to contemplate the meaning of what, who, and how we were during our life on earth…did we do the best we could?  …did we give when needed…were we there for our friends when they needed us…how many smiles did we leave behind when we left a room…did we live our life with passion and meaning?

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Hanging out in a hospital bed isn't a great time

Hanging out in bed doesn't make for a great time for anyone

Becoming as ill as I have over the past 9 months, most of my days are sedentary, and I’m not used to that.  For 50 plus years I was always running not walking.   My mode of getting things done was to speed 100 miles an hour past everyone else (and yes I got quite a few speeding tickets in my time!).

—-

Now, sitting or laying in bed leaves me with something I didn’t think about before: A time for contemplation.  It’s gotta’ be done, I do believe that.  If we have the opportunity to trip back to the “good old days” and relive some of those happier times, it’s a definite improvement over sitting there blankly watching the latest reality television show.  If you have trash you need to burn (i.e., apologies to make, fences to mend, etc. – now is a wonderful time to do it).  Not everyone gets the chance to make things right with those they have hurt.  Count your blessings if you can do just that one thing!  If I can say, “I’m sorry,” I literally feel the weight come off my heart.   

The hospice workers call all of this “life review.”  That’s a darned good description of what is going on for us.  It’s an opportunity to sift through the past – – memories of first loves, beautiful sunsets, shooting stars on the backdrop of a black moonless night, that fabulous hot stone massage you got somewhere, sitting out by a running creek with a fishing pole and nothing but the rustle of the wind in the trees to keep you company….the list can go on and on and on.   

So, while I’m sifting through my past and memories of events and people who I have loved and some who I hated, I feel a sadness too.  Those are now memories.  It won’t happen again.  I won’t see “that” again.  I am dying and where I go from that point of my last breath, I have no idea.  I can only wonder.   I think highly of this “life review” experience.  It’s a blessing to have the time and mental clarity (what little that I do have between taking the pain medicines and opiates).  Tonight I feel lucky for these moments of memories of the past.

Acceptance

Accepting the path that our life is moving on and knowing the ultimate destination is one of the most difficult aspects of our existence,  We love to think that we are in control.  We are in charge!  We want to take responsibility and be in the driver’s seat. 

Nope.  Not happening.  We can try all we want, but that isn’t anywhere near possible.   There are some little things along the way that we can pull together on our own, but the big picture isn’t ours to control.

...no, pigs don't normally fly....

When Pigs Fly - I Keep Waiting!

Years ago I found a favorite saying, “When Pigs Fly.”  Meaning, “yeah right…that will happen when pigs grow wings and fly off into the sunset.”  I haven’t seen a pig fly by and I seriously doubt that I ever will.  Darn it.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

I guess I will just have to accept the fact that pigs won’t fly, and probably won’t fly in my life-time unless someone gets busy with some magic and makes it happen.

Just the same, I shall dream!

Acceptance of illness and our own mortality is a difficult and sad reality.  Life and death is not ours to control.  At some point in each of our lives we must let go and give over the control buttons. 

I’m okay with that, because frankly, as the illness we have has grown more and more difficult to live with, I’m just too darned tired of fighting the good fight.  Exhaustion sets in, humor fades, fear increases in the dead of night, and you begin to realize that this unfortunate time of life leaves you with just a little less energy each day to put up an arguement. 

Let me know when the Pigs Fly!  I want to watch.