Category Archives: General Mumblings

50,000 Words!!! Yay!!! Oh, wait….

grimreaperscrabble

In my bloggy absence over the past couple of months, between recuperating from my near-death experience and changing jobs, I have cranked out about 50,000 words. Oh, no – not a novel or anything like that. Not an anthology of beautiful short stories nor a load of lyric loveliness.

No, by my rough estimate this morning – I have put together 50,000 words. Playing Scrabble on-line. And not that shabby imitation “Words with Friends” crap. Real(?) by-God virtual Scrabble.

50,000 words – One stinkin’ word at a time. I’m in deep, kids. Really deep.

In real life (you remember real life, don’t you?) very few people want to play Scrabble with me. I am insufferable. I must win, I play defensively, and know a lot of obscure words. Imagine my pure joy when I discovered the Scrabble app for my Android tablet. An endless supply of unwitting victims. I could play anonymously, so that no one would know it was me and avoid my invitations to a letter-tile smackdown. I grinned and rubbed my hands together in evil anticipation of the word whuppin’s I was about to lay down. And lay down I did. And did. And did. And without any freakin’ Scrabble Cheat apps, thank you very much. (Yes, Player 2218 I am talking to YOU).

First thing in the morning, with the sickly glow of the tablet illuminating my puffy eyes, I checked to see whom I was currently flogging with my little virtual wooden-letter weapons. Before bed – nay, even in bed – my bloodshot eyes checked to make sure that I wasn’t missing a turn to play a carefully-crafted pure-genius move that would propel me to a 200 point lead against some poor sucker (12 points). BwaHaHaHaHaaaaaaaaaaa.

Of course, I often encountered mental midgets like Player 3233 whose best word was “turds” or Player 7825 who used both the blank tiles for the letter K to spell “dick” twice in the same game. Or Player 1999 who joined both “anus” AND “vagina” on a double word score (Brilliant!!). I have screenshots of these offerings, but WP isn’t letting me upload this morning. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

And then…and then. I saw HIM. There on the bottom of the playing board.
 
happy teacher

Teacher. He looked like Alex Trebek, if Alex Trebek’s face was a wooden letter tile. He knew words – rich, high score, valuable words. He smiled sweetly and offered encouragement whenever I made a brilliant play. Like a giddy schoolgirl with a crush on her male middle-school Algebra I teacher, I lived for his praise. I was on a roll! I could not get enough of my new square-jawed lover. In addition to trouncing my feeble-minded competitors (not you, Player 3345, you are da bomb!), I resumed showering and changed into clean pajamas before ever opening that app again. I might have even applied lip gloss. When I was properly groomed and primped (18 points), I had only to click on his face to see my new main squeeze (45 points).

And as was inevitable (31 points) I disappointed my new paramour (18 points) soon enough. I played the word rivet (12 points). He frowned. “Hmmmm, let me show you what you missed” he said.

unhappyteacher

He played “erective” on the board (92 points). Wait, wait a darned minute. Did he just raise his eyebrow? What the?…what?

I was crushed. Within days Teacher had disapproved of many of my word offerings – showing me missed opportunities to play the words siemens, augite, sarkier, fique, kraters, hazan, flinkite, nutant, feod, flanerie, groanful, uranitic, kuias, miaoued, poovy, scungy, braii, gju, and arctoid (88 points).

It was over between us. Fique gju in your scungy feod, Teacher. You can kuias my poovy augite. Even though he remained at the bottom of the playing board, I never again tapped his wooden face in a quest for his approval.

I estimate (you have to sign in with your real name to get real stats) that I won 98% of the games I played (Damn you, lorrencowen – I’ll beat you yet!). I also estimate that I had as many as 150 games active at one time (the app only shows the 25 most recent games played). As of this morning I am down to 8 games and as soon was the opponents either succomb (30 points) or forfeit (13 points) I am done (5 points). Seriously (13 points). I mean it (2 points).

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Freshly Pegged – Yes, ME!!!

Hey, you guys all know Peg-o-Leg, right?  Well, you should know her – she is immensely talented and happens to be the only WordPress blogger that I have actually met in person (so far).  Her family dropped her off for a visit with me at a deserted Wendy’s, even though they expressed concern that I might be an axe murderer.

Peg has a feature, called “Freshly Pegged” over at her blog, where she features posts from her posse of followers and bloggy friends.  These posts are some that mysteriously escaped the attention of the Freshly Pressed Overlords, but are worthy of a look-see.

Pop on over to Peg’s and read my post “Stuck in the Middle (Age) With You” here.

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Reports of My Death Are…Yada, Yada, Yada

a_patient_in_hospital_gown_walking_-300x30033886_Grim-Reaper-Deluxe-with-Vinyl-Hands-Child-Costume

K8EDID  1   – GRIM REAPER 0

I apologize, especially to all my new followers, who signed up expecting at least an occasional post from me, but I’ve been out of commission for quite some time.  While one might think that illness, hospitalization and recuperation might result in a plethora of blog fodder – I remember so little and was so drugged up that I don’t even really trust the memories that I do have.  Here, in a nutshell, is the synopsis:

I was walking from the bedroom to my home office when I was doubled over with an excruciating pain in my abdomen.  I could not straighten up.  I could not take a deep breath.  Over the next 8 hours, I vomited (violently) the last thing I had eaten – a PB&J sandwich.  The sandwich came up one single, solitary cell at a time.

At 4 in the morning, I grabbed my stethoscope and listened to my abdomen.  Silence.  Crickets.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Bowel sounds are usually a symphony of tinkling, rumbling, gurgling, burbling and squeaking sounds.  Silence is not good.  I could not swallow my own saliva without wretching violently.  So I did what sounded like a good idea at the time.  I left my husband and dog sleeping in the bedroom and drove myself to the local hospital.

I was admitted and a round of tests began.  I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva, but they brought me two large containers of barium to drink.  Fat freakin’ chance, Doc.  Scans, scopes, x-rays, poking, prodding, listening and guessing led to the conclusion that my intestines had twisted themselves into a knot. A tube was placed into one of my nostrils and passed down my throat into my stomach to suck out all the stuff that was making me vomit almost continuously.  It was every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds.

Sometime during the tests and procedures, my stomach began bleeding and I aspirated a large amount of blood into my lungs.  The resulting pneumonia landed me in the ICU.  The small-town docs decided they could not handle the surgery that I would need so I was transferred 100 miles to a major metropolitan hospital ICU.  All that I remember about that ambulance ride is that the attendant who rode in the back with me had BO and farted a lot.  I also thought I heard him snoring at one point, but I could have been hallucinating.

My lungs were so compromised that I could not have tests done to help the surgical team decide on a course of action.  At one point I had oxygen delivered by both face mask and nasal canula and I was receiving the maximum respiratory support that one could receive short of being placed on a ventilator.  The days and nights dragged on – I was hospitalized 13 days total – most of that in ICU.  I had nothing to eat or drink for 10 days, and after 7 days they finally started artificial nutrition through an IV line.  Everyone who listened to my abdomen did not look me in the eye – I would watch their faces intently.  To their credit – no one sugar-coated it.  When I would ask, they’d tell me there were no sounds at all.

My lungs cleared enough that I could have the final scope needed to determine the surgical procedures required.  Unfortunately, I would need anesthesia and my fragile lungs weren’t up to the standard drugs, so I was given an animal tranquilizer, Ketamine, as an anesthetic agent.  The hallucinations that accompanied that drug were vivid, horrifying, and when I came to I was screaming.  The scope revealed that in addition to the intestinal twisting, the surgical procedure I had last summer had “slipped” and would need to be redone.

That evening the surgeon sat on the edge of the bed, took my hand, and explained that he wasn’t entirely sure my stomach could be saved.  On all the scans, tests, x-rays and scopes, my stomach appeared only about the size of a walnut.  Doc was concerned that my intestinal tract had been compromised for 10 days by lack of blood supply and he just wasn’t sure what he would find.  I put my faith and trust in him and God, and waited for the surgery.

I made it through the surgery, during which my stomach was examined inside and out and was declared to be healthy tissue.  I spent one night on a ventilator because they could not wake me up in the recovery room, but once the breathing tube was removed, I made great progress.  Three days after surgery, I was discharged.

I am home, recuperating, and trying to regain some strength.  I am still so weak I cannot even open a bottled water by myself.  But I am home.  With my beloved Sweet Cheeks who rarely left my side during those 13 days and my sweet pup.

I won that round.

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Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated – Part 2

Last month I wrote a post about a dream I had where my mother (long deceased after a short and troubled life) visited me for tea.  That post was the culmination of a long stretch of days (weeks, really) fraught with deepening sadness and mostly sleepless nights that were punctuated by haunting dreams.  That post was Freshly Pressed, and after replying to comments and visiting the blogs of old and new followers and other passersby, I vanished from the blogosphere for a while.

But life went on.  Each morning, when I hoisted a 90 pound book bag into my vehicle for the trek to the educational emporium which employs me – this guy would be staring at me…

Maybe today is the day...she's moving slower...it won't be long... (Photo credit:  k8edid)

Maybe today is the day…she’s moving slower…it won’t be long…
(Photo credit: k8edid)

But life went on. In an epic battle – serotonin wrestled with norepinephrine about whose job it was to cheer me up, and after coming to the conclusion that joy was highly overrated – both neurotransmitters waved sayonara and abandoned ship, leaving me with a desire to punch everyone (including sweet little old ladies) in the throat; sleeping about 3 hours a night, and wishing my mom would come back and take me with her.  (PLEASE NOTE:  I am okay, really).

But life went on.  I started feeling a little better, sleeping became my new hobby, and writing seemed like a vague memory of something I used to enjoy.  My neurons stopped twitching. I began to see hope and joy in simple things, and felt like I was making a slow, if somewhat wobbly, recovery.  Then I checked the mail.  I’d received an invitation.

Scan0001

To a funeral home.

Related Post:  Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated (Part 1)

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Tea with My Mom

My Mom.Photo credit:  k8edid

My Mom.
Photo credit: k8edid

My mother is sitting at my dining room table with a book and a cup of tea.  I remember that she loved to read, and loved tea.  Although, in all honesty, I don’t remember ever seeing her actually sit down with a cup of tea. Or a book, for that matter.  Eight children and mounds of laundry, cooking, and housework were what I remember.  I remember slurping the dregs from her neglected, cold teacups and getting into trouble for “borrowing” her library books as a child.

“Mom, what are you doing here?”

“Reading.  Having tea.”  She set her book aside with a smile.  She didn’t look tired, or sick, or any of the ways I remember her looking.

“I see that, Mom.  But…you’re…” my voice cracked.

“Dead?” she asked softly. “Yes, I am.  Grab a cup, sit down and join me”.

“Mom,” I am truly stymied. “Really, I have to get ready for work.”

“Pfft.  They can wait.  They don’t deserve you.”

“You know my employers?” I asked incredulously.  I take a seat at the table.

“Oh, of course I know them.  Certainly you know I’ve been there with you more than a few times.”

I knew exactly the times she is talking about.  Wait.  Hold on –  is she really here talking?  To me?   My mom’s been gone for more than 30 years.  But she’s at my table this morning and wants to chat.  Who refuses their dead mother’s request for a visit?  Not this gal.  I have wanted this for years – no, dreamed of this for years.  Work can wait. Work will wait.

“You were there when I told my students about colon cancer, and colostomies and screening and how you died so young,” I said, remembering one of many times I felt her presence in my classroom.

“Yes, I was there,” she said, her voice soft like I remember.  “ You weren’t going to tell them.  About me, I mean.”

“No, I…I didn’t think I could talk about you without crying.  I felt you there, though, and I didn’t want even one of them to know what it was like to lose a parent so young.  I wanted them to nag their parents if they had to so they would get screened for cancer.”

“I’m glad you told them.  They love to hear about your stories, about being a nurse and nursing school and your kids and grandkids.  Your surgical scare, your broken ankles.  Your concussion.  They just love your stories. ”

“I know,” I smile.  “I try to always tell them the truth – about how hard it is to be a nurse sometimes.  How saving someone isn’t always the happy ending you think it will be.  How dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you.  How some patients fill your heart with joy, some with sadness, some with terror,” I laughed.

“They love you,” she smiled.

“Well…” I can’t think of anything to say.

“Did you ever want to have a job?  I mean besides being a wife and mother?” I ask her.  I am ashamed that I don’t already know the answer to this question.

“Oh, that doesn’t matter.  I was too busy with such a big family.  I wanted to get my high school diploma someday, and would have if…” her words trailed off.  “Women didn’t have careers so much then, you know. They were expected to stay home, care for their families.  I really did want to finish raising my kids though…” her voice trailed off again.  We are both silent.

“But look at you.  A college professor and all.  A nurse,” she changed the subject brightly – and I remember her doing just that, always deflecting the focus away from herself.

“Mom, “ I start slowly, not sure what words would come next.  I remember her playing along with Jeopardy on television – keeping score and for an uneducated woman, knowing so very, very much.  I remember seeing her standing at the stove, silent tears streaming down her face, stirring another pot in an endless stream of meals.  I remember sitting beside her on the couch when she told me, without looking at me, that I could leave if I didn’t feel safe but that she hoped, no – prayed, that I would stay.  I remember her pain and her terminal illness.  Her wasting away before our very eyes.  Her selfless, shy ways.  The wit and humor which never left her.  I remember her hands, so much like my own, with short puffy fingers and soft, flimsy fingernails.  I remember her hugs; her soft arms and cushiony warmth.  The way she smelled of Jergen’s cherry almond hand lotion.  And, sometimes, like onions.

“Mom,” I close my eyes and start again.  I want to ask her so many things – how she managed so much sickness and pain in her 42 years on earth.  How she managed abandonment, infidelity, cruelty, and disappointment without anger or bitterness.  How she forgave so easily.  How she asked so little for herself yet always had so much love to give.  How she could bear to leave her children.

I am suddenly ashamed.  Mortified by my whining and bitching and the definite lack of grace I have been exhibiting lately.  Ashamed of my pissy attitude and ungratefulness.  I am embarrassed by my incessant irritation with my first world problems; by my impatience and unhappiness.  Ashamed for not appreciating the health and bounty and opportunities placed before me each and every day.  For not appreciating that I am given, undeservedly, a new and beautiful chance at happiness each and every day.

“Mom,” I open my eyes to try again.  She is not there, of course – but she is not really gone, either.  I get up from the table and go to the kitchen to start my morning coffee.  I stop.  I reach into the cupboard and take down the tea instead.

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