Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gimmees and Playstation 3

I wrote this post a few days before Thanksgiving. It was supposed to be a follow up to another post from that week. But it took me a few days to get around to uploading the first post, and three weeks to get around to uploading the second.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The wealth of this country is astounding. I wonder sometimes whether it's real or fabricated by government intervention into the economy. It is true that our tools and machines have increased our productivity and efficiency. But it's hard to know how much these things are responsible for our abundance, and how much of it is just "paper" wealth, like the riches of the late 1920s and the businesses of the 1990s. Rush says that the economy is not a zero-sum game. But I think it would be (at least, mostly) if we were still on the gold standard.

We're part of the working poor in this country. We've chosen that. When we read chapter 10 of Whatever Happened to Justice?, we recognized the concept of economic calculation: that people spend money only on things they want more than money. We would rather have time to read with the kids than money for a trip to Disneyworld. We would rather have a mom who cooks nutritious food from scratch than eat out often. We would rather have old cars and hand-me-down clothes than have a fancy tv. It's not that we don't want those other things: we just don't want them as much as we want the TIME to be with family.

That's why I am amazed by the society's captivation with new toys. There are new models of cars each year. We come up with VCRs, and then they're outdated by DVD players, which are no longer state-of-the-art because of TIVO and HDTV and who-knows-what-all-else. I can't find a pay-phone any more when I need one; they're no longer needed because of cell phones. Nice normal middle-class folks go to the casino and set a limit of $100/day to spend in the slots, when I'm feeling frivolous for spending $10/week to buy a roast annnd another whole $10/week for a turkey breast. I never understood the fights and the long lines for the Beanie Babies or the Cabbage Patch Dolls or the Tickle-Me Elmos.

But even those dolls, selling for $5-30 each, were nothing compared to the Playstation 3s. I can't even begin to fathom the desire to wait in line for 44 hours, in the cold, to be first in line at Best Buy when the new toy goes on sale. Do people really need these THINGS so badly that they can't wait until April to buy one when the bugs are worked out of it and the price isn't quite so outlandish? Neither can I fathom the wealth of a person who would pay $5000 (or even $25,000!) for a toy that will rot his brain.

I'm not saying that these toys shouldn't be allowed, or should be controled by govt, or anything of that sort. I also know that some very nice people really enjoy shopping (and getting some fantastic deals) on Black Friday every bit as much as I detest getting anywhere near town on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But no matter how you look at it, these things are evidences that we are a society that enjoys its indulgences and immediate gratification.

And this extends to so many other areas. We want our new toys NOW, for Christmas, and not next spring. We want the latest electronic gadgets. We want a pill or a drug that alleviates pain or germies within a few hours, rather than stopping our frenzied pace and sleeping off an illness. We're willing to let kids play it safe in front of the television and Game Boy (where they "won't get hurt") rather than letting them risk a broken arm climbing a tree or riding a bike without hands. That's because we can SEE the broken arm, but we can't see the damage done by the screen-time. We approve school referenda that ensure the kids have the latest lab equipment, the best theater and band opportunities, and the highest-quality sports fields and pools. We're willing to require pasteurization (which causes all sorts of allergies and obesity and other health problems) and irradiation and genetically-engineered food -- because we can't see immediate results of tinkering with our food, whereas we CAN see the few tragic results of infected spinach or milk.

Instant gratification, whether it's a Big Mac or a Playstation or one of a gazillion other examples -- it's NOT in the best long-term interest of either society or individuals. Nevertheless, instant gratification is one of the primary engines of our economy. How long will it be until our engine causes us to crash?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Flying Ice Cream

I had over half a gallon of cream yesterday. I suppose I could've been responsible and made butter, but I can't even seem to get the bills paid and the rug vacuumed right now. So instead, I made ice cream. Oh, the loverly deliciousness of homemade ice cream with the raw eggs and the home-made vanilla, and no milk but all cream!

So I'm scooping out a serving for dessert after dinner, and it just went flying. One scoop of ice cream, lobbing in a nice high arc through the air, and plunking down in the butter dish. (Hey, that's better than plunking down in the fried chicken!) We laughed!

And then Gary brought in the mail. There was a present for Maggie -- a video montage of photos, including out-takes and director's commentary and credits. We laughed uproariously. Not only that, but the pictures were full of laughing people!

Whatever will become of us when our humor-partners grow up and move away from home, and we become old fuddy-duddies instead of giggly goofs?

PS: For those of you who don't own ice-cream makers, I've found a way to make ice cream without. You just mix up the ingredients, pour them into a 9x5 bread pan, or into a 13x9, and set it in the freezer for a few hours. When it's starting to get good and frozen, but not solid yet, take the pans out of the freezer. Scoop the nearly frozen ice cream into a mixer bowl, beat it silly (better with the whisk than the regular beater), and pour it into a container with a lid (or cover it with foil). Then let it freeze hard. And there you have home-made ice-cream without having to find a place to store an ice-cream maker.

PPS: It is completely stupid to scarf down ice-cream when you're already shivering from cold. But it tastes so good. Chalk me up as a stupid one!

Hospital Update - 11

On Thursday morning, I got LOTS of questions at Bible class about how Maggie's doing. Y'know, physically she's recuperating great! But boy oh boy, she is getting so spoiled! Cards and presents and too much TV are the nice parts. But the "get me some milk" and "help me pick up the thermometer" (which is lying 18 inches away from her) and "I'm hot; take the blanket off me" is getting to be a little much. We made her start helping with lunch dishes -- one of her regular chores -- a couple of days ago. She can't sweep or vacuum or any other work that takes chest or abdominal muscles.

Today Maggie told me that Mrs May gave her instructions to "have those brothers wait on you for a while." And she's playing it out for all its worth. She's just trying to obey Mrs May, you see. [The mother rolls her eyes....]

The rash is nearly gone, but now she's feeling itchy. Hopefully it's just dry skin.

One of Maggie's stunts in the hospital was figuring out the monitors. She liked watching the heart beat on the monitor, with the number for her pulse. There was also an electrical lead for her blood pressure. There was one for her temperature that she kept a close eye on. The really funny one was the respiration. It fluctuated wildly, except when she was asleep. When we asked the nurses, one told us that it has to be very sensitive, so as to register for babies who are belly breathers and big kids who are chest breathers. Because of the sensitivity, it also registers movement (including talking) as breathing. So when Maggie got chattering, the monitor might show her respiration to be sky-rocketing. She liked to look over her shoulder, up to the monitor. But that movement in itself caused the numbers and the graphline to bounce all over the place. In describing the machine to her, we showed her that she could take three quick breaths, and that would affect the graphline one way. If she took slow breaths, or deep breaths, or shallow breaths, these would all affect the graphline. So one time, when I wasn't there, she decided to hold her breath. I hear tell that a nurse came hurrying in to find out what the problem was. And Little Miss Cry-Wolf just grinned and announced that she had been holding her breath. That there is one good indication that the ornery child was feeling too good to be housed in ICU any longer.

Another conversation was on Friday, before going home. One doctor and a resident and a nurse were making a very big point about her health and her incision and the snow. She should not go tobogganning. Snow angels would probably not be a good idea. No tobogganing. Okay to sit out in the snow, all bundled up, and throw snowballs at a tree or other target. No snowball fights, though, because the snowballs shouldn't be coming in her direction. And she couldn't go toboganning. No making snowmen either -- too much weight to move. And no toboganning.

Finally Maggie interrupted on the 57th prohibition against toboganning. "I can't go tobogganning. We don't have a toboggan." Oh. Okay. Then there's nothing to worry about. With a twinkle in her eye, she said, "We have a sled though." Good grief!!! After laughing, they told her "no sledding!"

In case anybody's interested in heavier reading, I posted on the Mouthhouse Moms blog about some Gerhardt hymns. Pastor Borghardt had requested that all HT bloggers consider putting up something on December 7 for Advent. I couldn't think of anything else to write. After I posted, it crossed my mind that I could've told Maggie's birth story. I suppose that could always wait for another day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trumpet Job

Skimming the Shopper paper tonight, looking for cut-your-own Christmas-tree farms, I noticed a help-wanted ad. There's a factory in our county seat that makes brass instruments. Right now, they're looking for a trumpet player and a trombone player. The trumpet tester is a full-time job with benefits. The trombone tester could be part-time or full-time. Now, how many musicians consider a job like that? Usually musicians want to play in an orchestra, or teach music, or have their own band. But here's a job testing new instruments, playing music all day, just to make sure the instrument works after it's manufactured. It sounds fun!

If Laughter Is Healthy for Your Body...

then you gotta read this and then this.

NO. WAIT. Hold up! Don't read it yet!
First, go to the bathroom, so you won't wet your pants while you're reading it. And second, get a kleenex for the tears.

Now, you can read what Pastor Petersen says about how babies are born.

Frustrations of Car Shopping

I bought my Camry two and a half years ago. Today I was looking at cars. Some of them were the same make, model, and year as my 97 Camry. But the sticker-price was more than double what I paid for mine back then. I think I'm going to have to see if I can limit to telling me "private" ads and no dealerships.

The sales tricks and manipulation drive me nuts. I can see right through them, and the "tricks" offend me. The one that ticked me off the most was when I came back from a test-drive. The salesman with me noticed another salesman on the lot. He called to the other guy and said, "Here are the keys for that customer you have who's interested in test-driving this Honda." For a half a second, my heart panicked. But I like this car! Then I realized that that's precisely what the salesman intended. He wanted to rush me. There was no one waiting to look at that car. No one had been there before me. No one could've become interested in it while it was gone because I was out driving it. No customers were around. It was just a LIE. And as my children can testify, there isn't anything I hate more than lies! I'm quite sure we're not going to go back there and purchase the Honda, but if we were to do so, I would insist on a different salesman. I sure ain't gonna "reward" a guy for trying to scam me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Unisex Looks

When Maggie was a few years younger, and could not stand to have her curly hair brushed, we finally had to cut it short. It was cute, and I thought it looked "little girly." But occasionally, she was referred to as "little boy." She did not like that!

The other day, my oldest daughter posted about a customer mistaking her for a guy. Seems odd enough to me, even if she is at that in-between stage of growing her hair out.

I think part of the problem is that there are SO many people now who prefer the unisex look. Many girls want to look masculine. Some guys want to look feminine. I remember at a funeral, when a "boy" went into the ladies' room at church, and several of us were taken aback. Then we finally decided that it probably was a girl, after all. When my mom and dad were in the hospital (many months apart) each one had the same nurse for a while. None of us could figure out definitively if this was a guy or a girl. Finally, I got a peek at the name tag: Kristen. Okay, that's a girl. Good thing the name wasn't "Chris" or "Pat."

So I was pleased to be recognized as a girl yesterday. I had been pumping gas and had gone into the station to pay. Some good natured joshing about the weather got a conversation going among the customers and owner. When we were headed out the door, Howie (the 70+ yr old stranger who was one of the flirters) said, "Hey, I'm hanging out with her" and indicated me. He knew I was a girl. It was cold. My hair was up under a hat. No make-up. No jewelry. No purse. I don't have much of a figure anyway, but any feminine curves were completely hidden by my big ol' ugly man's work-coat that's warm and heavy. There were no tell-tale signs of femininity anywhere. But he knew I was a girl. And that made me feel so good! :-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Random Thoughts

I hate car shopping.

When the doctor said Maggie had a hematoma, I was thinking that word meant "bruise." But there was no black-n-blue. Ah, a little patience, and the swelling goes down; now the black-n-blue is happy to make its appearance.

I really hate car shopping.

Maggie's fingernails and toenails were quite blue for a while today. I called the clinic and asked if we were allowed to bring her in to use the pulse-ox without having an appt, without needing to see the doctor, without paying. Four hours later we heard from the doctor, "Yes, that's okay. Just let us know so we'll be ready with a room available." But by then her fingernails were pink again.

I detest car shopping.
Actually, I don't like any shopping.
But car shopping is reeeally bad.

It is immensely helpful to have nearby loved ones cook a meal for you when you're fresh home from the hospital (especially when you have to spend chunks of the day car shopping too!).

After being gone for over 6 hours (grrrr... car shopping) I decided to treat myself with a McDonald's coupon that allowed me to buy two Big-N-Tasties for the price of one. While I was waiting for the guys to make my burgers, I was looking at their literature rack: nutrition, exercise, Ronald McDonald House Charities, etc. I picked up the brochure on RMH, and there I was, standing in a McDonalds, waiting for my burgers, and my eyes started tearing up. One tiny little week ago, to the minute, Gary and I were cleaning up the kitchen in the RMH, having plundered the freezer in our RMH kitchen of mixed veggies and hamburger. While Matt and Rachel and Nathan and Katie stayed in ICU with Mags, Gary and I took a break to grab some food and cook dinner. And there it was, for the taking: the pots, the dishes, the spatulas, the FOOD, the sink, the milk, the buns, the ketchup, the butter. What a blessing to have not only the beds and shower, but also the kitchen (a stocked kitchen), provided for family during the time of the hospital stay.

Maggie's rash is improved. Still there. The doctor thought it would be gone by this morning. Well, hey, at least we're headed in the right direction. Another day or two and it might actually be gone.

And tomorrow I ought to do more car shopping. I wonder how long Gary can stay here and play nurse for Maggie? Or... I wonder how long poor little ancient worn-out Zippy can keep running for the boys if we don't replace her NOW? I do hate car shopping.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hospital Update - 10

We saw our family doctor this afternoon.

Lungs -- The bad part of Maggie's left lung is still not too good. She was given strict instructions to continue using the spirometer for breathing exercise -- either at every commercial break on tv, or every hour if she's reading or watching taped videos.

Swelling -- She has a hemotoma at the site of the incision for the bypass machine. Doctor says that, for adult catheterizations, they will usually put a sandbag on the incision site for three hours following the procedure, to keep the swelling down. There's nothing to be done for this. Time will resolve it. Maggie could use cool compresses, but the doctor says that the chill on that part of the body may be less welcome than is the swelling.

Rash -- Doctor says it's benign. She showed me that, if you press down on the skin or if you gently stretch and pull at the skin, the spots go away. They come right back when you quit pressing. But she said that a rash that goes away like that is benign. So it's not pox.

Doctor tested for strep. The rash fit, but nothing else did. The strep test was negative. We reviewed possibilities for allergic reactions to something external, and that just doesn't pan out. So we're left with the conclusion that it must be an allergic reaction to the prophylactic antibiotics given before and after surgery. I think she got ampicillin and oxycillin. We have a call in to cardiology to confirm which meds she got, and to put them on a No-No List for Maggie henceforth. After discussing this, I recalled that Maggie didn't get any -cillins with her last open-heart. She'd had some tummy reactions to penicillin previously, and developed a nasty nasty diaper rash. So last time we told them not to use -cillins. We figured it would be too hard to treat the diaper rash alongside the recovery from surgery. She did have -cillin with her palate surgery, but it was one dose instead of a couple days of IV's. But now, we're just going to have to keep her away from it for good and forever. For now, we will just be treating the rash with Benadryl until it goes away. No biggie. Doctor said it shouldn't take long, since we're not continuing to put the offending drug into Maggie's system.

Sternum incision and chest-tube sites are healing fabulously.

Matthew 25:33

Okay, so this is not properly seasonal. I was jogging this morning, listening to a tape of Mass from Trinity 26 at my father-confessor's church. And the Gospel reading brought this thought to mind, regardless of its lack of Adventishness.

Point 1. A few days after "Passion" came out, we were discussing the movie at a play-day at the Kochs. Aaron pointed out one thing that bothered him: the two malefactors were placed on the wrong side of Jesus. The believer should've been on His right, and the unbeliever on His left.

Point 2. There's one camp-song that I always loved, and which I still love. "I am covered over by the precious blood of Jesus that He gives to me. I am covered over by the precious blood of Jesus, and He lives in me. Oh, what a joy it is to know my heavenly Father loves me so He gives to me my Jesus! When He looks at me He sees not what I used to be but He sees Jesus."

Point 3. Jesus "sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty."

Point 4. Jesus divides the sheep from the goats. The sheep are on His right, and the goats are on His left.

Coalescing it all like a mathematician who mentally sketches out diagrams of word-problems: Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. We are at the right hand of Jesus. So when the Father looks toward us, Jesus is "in the way," blocking His view, so to speak. If I am not at Jesus' right hand, when the Father looks toward me, He sees me "on my own," standing on my own merits or my own righteousness. But as the Bible has the diagram lined up, Jesus intervenes in the sight-line, so when the Father looks at me, He see not what I used to be, but He sees Jesus.

Hospital Update - 9

Edema is better; rash is worse.

There is still swelling around the incision for the bypass machine, but I would no longer call it "bad" (or "shockingly horrific" which was Saturday night's tag). It's not good, but it's headed in the right direction.

But that rash.... When I called the doctor to see if we could get in today instead of tomorrow, the nurse finagled a way for us to get in. That's unusual for this doctor's office.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hospital Update - 8

The edema is better; the rash is worse.

Maggie's temperature has been easily controled. She needs one or two doses of tylenol or advil per day to whack down fevers that pop up about every 10-12 hours.

I was ready to take her in because of the swelling and puffiness around the incision for the bypass machine. But it just doesn't look infected. It's not hot, not red, not painful. Just very very puffy. We tried taping garlic on her from 5:00-10:00 yesterday evening. I don't know if it had any effect, but the swelling is significantly less than yesterday.

When I was painting on the betadine stripes today [by the way, the chest-tube incisions look much better than yesterday when we removed the bandages] I noticed spots. Lots of spots. Kinda like chicken-pox spots. By noon, they were gobs worse. They're spreading across her body in a chicken-poxy pattern. But she doesn't have the other signs of chicken pox, like high fever or runny nose or any of those things. I wondered if the rash might be something to do with tape and bandages or something else she was in contact with, but it doesn't seem to work out "geographically" on her body. We know of no contact with anyone with chicken-pox. They don't itch, either, but it sounds like they're not supposed to itch until they erupt. Well, if it IS chicken-pox, it is a darn good thing we got her out of the hospital when we did, just on the cusp of her becoming contagious.

Her tummy wasn't doing so well today. That problem started about 48 hours after the last dose of Zofran. Since she didn't feel so hot, she didn't eat in the morning. But by noon, she was throwing up bile. I think it's hunger, and we don't want to start a cycle of being nauseous because of hunger and then exacerbating the problem by not eating. So I opened up Erin's jar of homemade applesauce and made Maggie eat a bite, even though she objected because of nausea. She had tiny little bites every few minutes for the next hour, and is now feeling much much better. Now she's about a 1/3 of the way done with the quart. Her tummy is all spiffy again!

We have an appt with the family doctor on Tuesday morning.
Gary and I are exhausted. Just totally wiped out and in need of naps. We haven't been short of sleep, but boy, do we need naps. My brain is on vacation too. Can't figure out how to do more than one thing at a time. And sometimes it's hard to keep up with ONE thing. (We may be eating carry-out food a lot this week.) Maggie's not the only one needing to veg in front of the boob tube. Now, if only I could get a chance to pick the video instead of her choosing...