Studio Journal 4-10-11

violets

Associated Videos

Live Auditions at The Soundry

Soundry Auditions on Ustream.tv

I don’t have much time to keep up with this journal, but I’ll try to fill the gap at least, till I can return to work. I’m also explaining why I haven’t been able to keep up with anything, email, networking, meeting, or the music in general. I haven’t taken any photos, but there is a link to video from an audition session I did.

Last journal I laid out the general situation. I’ll try an fill in the details, which is how this underlying motivation for my being here is justified, really. Without warning, there can be a crisis here, but I am here, to seamlessly take up the load and keep everything together

When I finished the last journal, we were waiting for surgery, a biopsy and medi-port installation, before starting treatment. It was scheduled for the 21st.

By mid-month, though, ma was not doing well, growing progressively weaker and confused, signs her calcium levels were rising again quickly, disrupting her nerve functions. I was doing full time care, cooking, cleaning, driving, helping ma get up, handling all the bills and correspondence, and trying to keep her comfortable and as happy as possible during this difficult time. It was the well-known balance between not doing too much and making her uncomfortable with that, and doing everything I needed to. I had to be unobtrusive while always there, seriously, as I would shadow her as she walked to catch her if she fell, sleep with the door open, waking if she made a sound or got up. Everything except the highest priorities slipped away.

I coped with a couple day visit from my niece and nephew, on the road from Texas to Delaware, staying at the house along with my sister and her daughter, with a get together at my other sisters house. Lucky I could sleep out n my van and have enough spare bedrooms for all. I serve well, and enjoy it, but it was a major effort shepherding my mother through all this, trying to make sure she enjoyed it, while making sure she was taken care of. Downplay her disability, which would embarrass her, and trouble everyone. So it goes.

On the other hand, though she napped a lot and was increasingly fuzzy mentally, she was taking two drugs, one for skin itching and pain, and one for anxiety occasionally, to help her sleep, which definitely knocked her out and made her thinking fuzzy. When those wore off, she’d be sharper again, though the calcium still had an effect. The week before the surgery she managed to do an audition for a show in the Fall.

The apricot tree outside the window bloomed. There was a day the wind turned warm from the south and it climbed to the 70’s. I took her down to the river to get outside and enjoy, and we did. One of my main jobs is keeping ma positive, getting some enjoyment out of life, while we make it through a difficult stage. But she could barely walk a couple hundred feet, with a stop to rest along the way. I was concerned and started calling her doctor, and my sister, who is a nurse, though the hospital visit was only another week away. Her pre-surgical blood tests confirmed the high calcium levels I expected. But there was confusion caused by not communicating the results of the tests between doctor’s offices, so nothing was done till I had called several times over several days, and then she was called in immediately for treatment. The surgery had been delayed till the 24th and this was the day before that.

Then things made an abrupt turn for the worse. Ma went through the surgery ok, thooug they they ended up keeping her overnight for observation, a build up of fluid in the lungs, probably from all the infusions she had between the treatment for high calcium and the surgery. But the next evening, Friday, she started having trouble, getting shaky. I spend most of the day at the hospital with her, as usually, talking, and playing guitar and singing for hours till she slept. Saturday, she was starting hallucinate, but still able to talk to me about it. I thought this was from too much pain medication. What I didn’t know is that she wasn’t on any. I was trying to explain to the staff doctors and nurses that this was not normal and something was wrong. I called her doctor. But it was a weekend, and no one seemed to know what was going on, maybe both too many doctors and not enough.

On weekends my sister is off work and can sometimes relieve me, so Sunday I went to a planned audition at The Soundry, though I almost skipped it. I’ve included a link to the video of the audition they posted. I brought in the pedal board, this time, though I used the acoustic setting. I was trying to make some effort to move forward, think about the future, rapidly approaching, and where was I going to play, venues, gigs, or back to the street as the warm weather started me thinking about that too easy solution.

I return to the hospital late, and ma is now delirious and wheezing. I relieve my sister, telling her to start calling doctors. I stay and work just to keep her from climbing out of bed. She still responds to my playing, settling down and singing along disjointedly. She’d throw out odd words from songs that I can recognize and play for her. My sister is a bit amazed that I can do this.

I stay till late, go home to eat and get to bed after midnight. At 4:48 I am woken by a call from the hospital. Ma is in critical care, on a ventilator. I call my sisters and head for the hospital.

Mom is critically ill for many days, but slowly makes a turn-around and slow recovery. They find and remove a gallstone in her bile duct, which is infected, sort of like appendicitis, I think. I don’t know, and I’m not into worrying about what caused a simple procedure to turn into weeks in critical care. It probably could be multiple things. Maybe the various doctors will come to some sort of conclusion eventually, maybe not. Sometimes you never know what happened. You just have to hope they get better.

It has been a tough, stressful time, certainly, with not enough sleep and too much to think about. I am at the hospital a lot, and trying to scramble to deal with the bills and finances with ma totally sedated and unable to do anything she used to take care of. My sisters take days off work, so are able to swap shifts with me through the week, which I need to deal with banking and bills. I would spend hours reading to her aloud, “The Old Man and The Sea”, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, and “Kim”. People can often still hear when they are sedated, even though they can’t respond and seem unconscious. They can be drifting in a confused dreamy state, and the story guides their visualizations, makes them dream, maybe sleep. Even just the sound of a familiar voice lets them know where they are, helps them relax. Lately, they let me bring in the guitar and play for her as well. I gave cds to all the staff helping ma.

Now, 2 weeks later, she is doing well, almost normal, and breathing on her own half the time, though still on the ventilator. This is the interim period of re-accustoming her muscles to breathing actively, so they can take her off the ventilator, a problem in itself. It has been a stressful, crazy time, and I am afraid I have had to let everything else slip. I am sure everyone understands. I brought in my songwriting stuff, but never really got into it. Would rather be tryng to ineract with ma for the time there, just in case it helps her pass the time, rest easier, or go back to sleep.

I am only doing tis because yesterday I actually came down with something, swollen lymph glands in my throat, aches and pains, and I couldn’t take a chance going to visit ma. Luckily it is the weekend so my sisters can come in and cover for me. I drag about, doing some work in the garden, deling with a pile of free woodchips a local tree-worker came by to dump. It is frustrating that when there is so much to do, to catch up on, when I have a little time, I am too unfocused mentally to do much. Though really, I am thankful it came on the weekend, when I normally get some relief from my sister, so they don’t have to lose work.

In the end, that is the reason I am here. Because I can stop working. Because I don’t have a career that demands continuity, and I don’t have kids that need to be supported and taken care of, don’t have debts and my mortgage is paid. This was all as I intended it to be.

So it goes. The violets, ma’s favorites, are blooming now. I guess I just want you to understand what is happening in my life, the underlying reality beneath it all, now breaking through to the surface, dominating everything for weeks at a time, months really. I stop writing to my representatives, even though all these critical events are unfolding. The music gets shoved aside, but it is still there, waiting. I still play, though mostly for ma in the hospital. I still think about it. And eventually, I’ll get back to it again, try to remember where I left off. For now, though, I just have to deal with this crisis, which is why I am here in th first place, so if things like this happen, I am here to step in and take up the load.

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