Saturday, October 14, 2006

Private Hospital Rooms

The kids and I recently began reading Farewell to Manzanar, a book about the relocation of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The Wakatasuki family managed to keep the family together on the buses headed out to the concentration camps, and also managed to snag a unit of one of the barracks for their family. However, the family was too big to all fit in one unit, so one of the married daughters and her husband ended up with strangers (as did nearly everyone else in the concentration camp). On Thursday, we were reading about the difficulty of that lack of privacy for them and how desperate the couple was to find something –anything-- that would get them out of the situation of living with strangers.

Friday I drove down to my hometown to sit with Dad in the hospital while Mom went to a funeral and the sibs were at work. For the first three days of his recuperation from surgery, Dad hadn’t exactly been being a very patient patient. (Incidentally, things were MUCH improved by the time I arrived.)

During the day I began to realize how very nice it is to have a private room in the hospital. When Maggie has been hospitalized she always had a private room except for the first ICU (in Madison) where there was a huge amount of space between beds due to all the ICU equipment. When I was in the hospital having babies, I didn’t have roommates. (One time, the whole maternity ward had been closed for over a week, and they had to open it up and call in staff for me and baby Paul.) When my friend Steve was in the hospital, there was never a roommate with him when I visited.

To share a room (especially a small room) with a stranger, that makes the whole experience a little different. There are two tv’s running. There are two sets of conversations. You know that whatever the therapist says to you is heard by the other patient and his family. You know that the conversations with visitors are being overheard. The amount of noise or amount of light in the room is something to take into account for the other person. If you want to pray or sing, you wonder how that’s going to affect the other patient. If the other patient has a potty mouth, that’s affecting you.

I know that hospitals used to have wards, and I used to think that semi-private rooms were an unnecessary luxury. But in my old age now, getting cranky and used to my privacy, I’m really glad that next month in Milwaukee I know we’ll have the luxury of a private room for Mags. Boy, I am spoiled rotten.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Luke 8

I was editing Pr Fabrizius's volume on Luke this morning. One of the questions was about the woman with the continual flow of blood spending "all her livelihood" on physicians. I got distracted from verb tenses and commas, and thought about that phrase. Interestingly (at least, interesting to me), the father of the prodigal son also divided out his "livelihood."

That woman spent all her money. And what good did it do? No good for her. But her expenditures served a purpose in teaching us something about Jesus. Her expenditures thus served me. The father in Luke 15 sacrificed his "bios" (Greek word for "life" or "livelihood"). The woman couldn't buy health. The prodigal father gave to his son who wasted it. But it was all for the purpose of showing us the compassionate heart of the only One who can give forgiveness of sin, and thus also give health and life.

And being a hymn addict, I couldn't help but think of Rist's
"Lo, stained with blood,
the Lamb of God, the Bridegroom,
lies before thee,
pouring out His life that He may to life restore thee."

Granted, it's not the same word "life," but I like the thought nevertheless.

And then the other thing I noticed was something connected to the earlier part of the chapter. The woman with the flow of blood saw (in verse 47) that "she was not hidden." Those same words were used in verses 16-17. What is secret will be revealed; anything hidden will come to light. When she found that she was not hidden, she came to Jesus in fear, love, and trust, and worshiped before Him, confessing her faith in Him, confessing that He is the One who heals all ills, confessing that she wanted what He had to give. Her faith was in Jesus, and He made her well. And this is not hidden from the people around her, nor hidden from us ... because it points us to the lamp (Ps 119:105 and John 1) who is held up on the cross to bring light to the whole world (Is 60).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tying Up Loose Ends

The centipede infestation continues unabated. Neighbors have told us they're having the same problem, so it must be something with the weather or the crop-harvesting. Poor Andrew -- he doesn't tend to be bothered by bugs, but centipedes just gross him out, and he's been talking frequently about moving away from this house! Like, NOW!

The guy who left the political yardsign in our front yard still has not been back to retrieve his sign. This amuses me.

The road hazard that I encountered on Sept 25 did some damage after all. The tires made it through, apparently unscathed. But the "flex pipe" going from the engine to the exhaust system had a gash in it. The last week I've been driving around sounding like a hot-rodder. Didn't bother to make an appt for fixing it because of plans to be in Milwaukee. So a phone call to the mechanic was one of the first orders of business when we got home on Monday afternoon. When we picked it up today, it wasn't even that terrible a bill! Hooray!

And for those of you who have asked about the hog's head, it is all taken care of. It was boiled for hours and hours yesterday in a huge pot, bigger than a water-bath canner. When Philip came home from work, he began taking the meat off. We didn't like it. He ended up throwing the meat out. I don't know if the icky flavor was due to the head having been roasted on the spit with the rest of the piggy, or if it was because of being boiled with all the other "stuff" that comes with a head (teeth, eyes, skin, etc) instead of just bone, fat, and meat.

When I was checking at one point to determine whether it was done, I reached into the pot and grabbed something that turned out not to be muscle. Oops, I yanked a tooth out of the jawbone. I didn't know if I had ruined something Philip would want, so I left the tooth on the counter. Maggie thought that was interesting, as on the previous day she'd just had a discussion about her loose tooth and that the doctor might have to pull it prior to intubation. (By the way, the tooth fairy does know to visit hospital patients under those circumstances -- so declares the nurse-practioner.)

Well, anyway, regardless of the flavor of the meat, Philip still wanted the bones. So last night he was picking apart this skull. "Oooooh, Mom, you gotta see the soft palate on this animal! Isn't it interesting?" (I hate to admit it, but it was pretty. It had a pattern that would make a very nice floor tile or wall paper.) "Hey, mom, I've got the eyeball. You wanna see?" "NO!!!" (I get really creeped out by eyeballs. And some people actually dissect sheep eyeballs for homeschool science. Yuck!) At this point, I figured it was time for me to get out of range of hearing Philip's discoveries.

I don't know where this skull is now. Maybe it boiled too long and crumbled. We can only hope.


I put the chicken in to broil for dinner about 10 minutes ago. And now I'm smelling "church." This is weird. I wonder if there's rosemary in incense. My kitchen smells like Zion Detroit and Redeemer Ft Wayne.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hospital Update

Surgery has been rescheduled for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

That's seven weeks away.

We've already been waiting eight weeks. But I understood the delay there. The cardiologist said they were trying to get all the school-kids' surgeries done before classes started in September. They had to wait for an open slot on the MRI. They had to analyze the MRI results and discuss them. Then they had to schedule a place in OR for Maggie. But now it's seven more. And Maggie's grown an inch taller and 13 pounds heavier since the August cardiology appt. If she's growing faster, that's all the quicker she's outgrowing her pulmonary artery which she'd already outgrown 18 months ago. But the cardiologist says she'll be okay waiting until the end of next month. I hope he's right.

The cardio-thoracic surgeon "should" be scheduled for one surgery a day. He can do two in a crisis. He's scheduled for two a day, every day through the end of this month. He has some days he's scheduled to be out of town in November. The nurse said we could request "second slot" on Nov 14, 15, or 16. But she said the likelihood of getting bumped again was not insignificant. She said we would be scheduled for the morning surgery if we opted for Nov 28 or 29. She also said that the likelihood of getting bumped again then would be minimal; only the desperate people schedule surgery between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If we're stuck waiting seven more weeks, we're hoping that at least we can look forward to the surgeon having had some days off and little bit of a rest from his currently crazy schedule.

Somehow, though, I just can't believe we won't get bumped again. I have no confidence whatsoever that we'll go in at the end of November and actually stay for the operation. Either the doctor's schedule or Maggie's health could interfere with the planned date. Beyond the emotional preparation and the logistics of who's living where when and eating where when, and getting subs for work, there's the financial situation. The deductible is already paid this year, and so is most of the co-insurance. If this hospital stay spills over into January, it's going to cost us an extra $1800. (There I go, fretting again. I suppose I could get out Luther's devotions from a couple of weeks ago, the week the Gospel was on Matthew 6.)

It is utterly amazing to me how tired we are from the change in plans. And I'm rather disgusted with myself. I keep thinking how inconvenient this is for me, how this is going to mess up our December, how I have to get back into the swing of everyday life and school and work. Goodness gracious -- there are little babies whose lives depend on having access to that surgeon today. And all I can think is how this change in plans disrupts our lives. That is astoundingly selfish. (Not that such a realization changes my selfishness....)

Maggie has been completely satisfied with the change of plans. Initially she wasn't. But when her friend Mary found out that surgery was canceled, her first comment was "then Maggie will be able to come to my slumber party after all." And so it is arranged that the girls will get together this Friday, and in the Land of Eleven-Yr-Olds, all is well.

Genesis 1:28 + Genesis 3:16-19

Pastor was talking about the curse of the fall the other day. The curse of the fall is the sorrow women have in motherhood and their desire to usurp the husband's office, as well as that the ground is cursed and work is hard and that we will die. He asked how that is related to who God made us to be. (We didn't catch on as fast as he wished.)

He pointed us to God's "prime directive" given to Adam and Eve: have babies, and exercise dominion over the earth. The curse strikes right at the heart of those two things for men and for women. So the curse isn't some tangential thing. It is entirely caught up in who we are and what we have been made to do.

How come it's so obvious when he says it, but I'd never ever figure it out without being told???

The Power of the Packers

Driving home from errands today, I didn't even notice the sign at the smut house around the corner. I noticed that I didn't notice ["huh?!?" they say] because somebody turned into the driveway of the strip joint. When I have to slow down on the highway to avoid hitting one of those prurient jerks, I can't help but think "loser!"

The incident reminded me that last week I did notice the sign at the smut house. It was flashing (something the sign seldom does). It had huge bold letters, screaming at us, to try to draw in more customers. Usually the sign tells us when happy hour is, how many girls are dancing that night, whether the bar is serving hot wings or popcorn, important information like that. But last week, the humongous sign at the strip joint flashed:

Watch the Packers Game Here Tonight!

Somehow, I thought that said something about Wisconsin and their Packer mania.

Writing Assignments

Writing is one of the things the kids are supposed to do for schoolwork. The older four didn't have as much trouble coming up with things to write about as Kid#5 does. So I finally decided that I'm just going to have to be diligent about making a list of ideas for him and append it to his school to-do list. In case anybody else is short of ideas, here are some that we're using this week. (I took many of them from "Do It Later: A 2007 Planner (or Non-Planner) for the Creative Procrastinator." I bought the book because it was so fun to read. But now I'm finding it full of ideas of projects that a bored homeschooled kid might find himself doing instead of reading comic books!)

Most importantly, write about what you read for science, history, or literature. Or something that happened recently at home, at Smiles, in the news, on errands, etc.

Other ideas might be –
Write about what you’d do with the money if you won the lottery.
Tell about the kinds of trees in your yard.
Make a list of possible New Year’s Resolutions: realistic ones and idealistic ones.
Make a list of things you’re glad you’re not allergic to.
Write about the benefits (and maybe down-sides?) of having a to-do list.
Tell about your friends who live in other states.
Write about your favorite candies.
What season is best and why?
What jobs would you never take, even if you were dirt poor?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hospital Update

Surgery is canceled. The nurse will call later today and reschedule, probably for November they told us. The doctor did lots of heart transplants this summer, which pushed back some of the "regular" surgeries into fall. A week ago, NINE babies were born that needed immediate corrective surgery. Maggie was scheduled for 7:30 tomorrow morning, and when we started pre-op procedures they told us she had been pushed back to 3:30 in the afternoon. But before we got to EKG and blood draws and X-ray, another call came in with the need for the doctor to handle another emergency of a baby born this morning. Since Maggie is by far the healthiest of the ones needing surgery, she stays at the end of the line.

We found out during pre-op today that they anticipate Maggie being in for about a week. Possible that it could be a day or two less, possible that it could be longer. But they said planning for a week would be reasonable. Also, they hope to take out the breathing tube and have her wake up the same day as the surgery. For her last open-heart, she was drugged for over four days to keep her asleep, and still had the breathing tube for a few days after waking up.

It's an odd feeling to be sent home. Kinda disappointing, and it shouldn't be. We had the arrangements made -- the food taken care of for the ones at home and the ones at the hospital, errands re-arranged, Ronald McDonald House reservations, work schedules adjusted, etc. And now we just come home and go on with life, and go through all those arrangements again in a few weeks. I think the weird "let down" feeling is probably due to the desire to be in control and to know what's coming up next. Even if what's coming up next isn't such a good thing, people still seem a little more settled if our expectations aren't pulled out from under us.

Well, back to schoolwork and housekeeping and cooking. And we'll try this surgery thing again in a few more weeks. They did tell us that they try never to reschedule a second time, knowing how rescheduling throws a huge kink into people's lives and plans.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Acts 8:2

The Rev Dr Stephen Wiest entered eternal glory on October 4, 2003. Three years ago today we buried him. "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him."

Reformation Bloodshed

Last night, a couple of us were at a Mission Festival in Greenfield. Pr Fehrmann preached. I did listen to the sermon; really, I did. But one comment caught and diverted my attention for a while. He mentioned what happens when the Church's message begins to shift back to where it's supposed to be. When the Church gets away from preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins, when the Church toddles into other areas like preaching morality instead of forgiveness, a return to the message of forgiveness of sins is always accompanied by bloodshed. Think of what's happened throughout history. As long as the Church focuses on morality, the persecution is not strong. But when the focus returns to forgiving sinners, things get uncomfortable in the Church; there are arguments and fighting; yes, even bloodshed.

It makes me realize that what's happening among American Lutherans today is minor. Pastors may not be getting paid all the time. Pastors may be getting fired. Pastors may be getting in trouble with the church bureaucracy. But people aren't going to jail or getting killed. We really have it pretty easy.

Suddenly today, my computer righted itself with regard to posting on blogger. My icons for the bolding and italics and hyperlinks magically returned. I suppose that means I should try again to figure out how to post pictures. But first I would need to figure out how to look at digital pictures on the computer. One step at a time....

And taking that cliche and making it literal... it really is necessary to take one step at a time -- broom in hand -- in the basement these days. The centipede infestation continues. Every time I change a load of laundry I have to sweep the floor. Then an hour later, when I head back to the laundry room again, the floor is littered with centipedes. If I don't sweep them up before I fold each load, I crunch every time I move my feet. A couple of days of this is one thing, but it's starting to get a little gross.

And on a more serious and ponderous note, I'm putting a post on the Mouthhouse Moms blog regarding kids growing up. Katie's car accident and Jane's recent blog post and the arrival of Saranita got me to thinking.