Saturday, October 20, 2012


Yesterday was not nearly as boring as I would have liked. They removed John's catheter and IV, which was certainly a step in the right direction, but then it took all day for his own plumbing to kick back into action. I guess we should have remembered that from his previous surgeries. Meanwhile, he couldn't eat, he couldn't get comfortable, he still had his headache and needed pain meds every four hours, which of course, can stop you up further, he started throwing up again when they got him out of bed to go to the bathroom -- and all for nothing! All in all, he was about as miserable as I'd seen him since this whole thing started. Fortunately, that all changed shortly after I left for the day, and he called to report that he "felt like a new man!" Wish I could say the same.

Our son went back to Houston for the weekend, but left his puppy dog Guinness here with me for moral support. It was pretty late last night by the time I finally got her walked, emails read, and all the clean laundry cleared off my bed, so that I could finally crawl in. I'd only been asleep an hour or two when I was jolted wide awake by some noise Guinness was making in the living room. I listened for a while, and decided she must have spotted some animal through the glass door, so rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. But then I heard her again, only this time it sounded more like gagging or choking. "Ugh, she probably barfed something up. Better go check." Got up, looked around the kitchen and living room, didn't see anything, went back to bed. Just about to drift off when I hear it again, only louder, with a lot of slurpy tongue noises afterwards. I get back up, turn on all the lights, go searching everywhere, and finally I find two gi-NOR-mous piles of ick back in the corner of our dining nook, with dark, comb-like things poking out all over. Finally I realize that she must have been eating fronds off of my Norfolk Pine all day -- something I have never known her to do -- and that is what set her off.  She seemed really perky after that, wanted to go out to the bathroom and chase every critter she heard, came back in and ate all the food left in her bowl, then curled up on the sofa and went right to sleep.

I, on the other hand, lay awake most of the night with my gut in a turmoil, wondering whether Norfolks are poisonous to dogs, and what I might find when I awoke next morning. Gawd, I am sooooo tired.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Yesterday was kind of a nothing day, and around here, that's a good thing. John had been pretty perky on Wednesday, but I think the move to the new unit kinda wore him out. Then his new location was so bright and noisy compared to the last one, he ended up not getting much sleep at all, so he pretty much snoozed the day away yesterday. I took him a face mask from one of his airplane travel kits and, hopefully, that will help a bit.

The one bit of real news is that they are planning to do his next angiogram Monday morning, providing nothing occurs before then. I guess that will determine what happens next. That will also be the 8th day after his bleed -- that magic time period after which everyone will start to breathe a little easier because those nasty vasospasms are much less likely to occur. Please pray that we have a very boring, uneventful weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I was the first child in my family to fly the coop, and the only one to stay away more or less permanently. My mom had a bit of the martyr in her, and liked to play the drama queen if you didn't call enough or come visit enough, and the truth of the matter was, no matter how often you did, it was never enough. So the plus side of living halfway around the world was that it freed me of those expectations. The down side is that, when it's your turn to be in crisis, there is no family to gather around and support you, or to take care of all the secondary crises that pop up on a regular basis, so that you can keep your focus on the primary one. Therefore, you learn to cherish your "family" of friends, and oftentimes, the generosity of total strangers.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all the people who have already stepped up to the plate for us, from the friends at Mima's who called the paramedics, moved cars and directed traffic, to the total stranger who volunteered to drive my car over to the hospital if I wanted to ride in the ambulance with John. John's brother, way off in Ohio, got his old college buddy (who happens to be our attorney) out of the shower early the next morning, and put him to work drawing up powers of attorney and medical directives for us, while other friends rounded up mobile notaries who would come to the hospital to witness our signatures. One couple immediately volunteered to drive over to Austin and act as our witnesses if need be, then turned right around the next day and volunteered to come sit at our house and wait for a plumber, when our septic system backed up and flooded all the downstairs rooms with poo water.

The one that really made us laugh was on Tuesday night, when Austin and I stopped in Kyle on the way home for a few groceries, and ended up grabbing a bite to eat at our favorite Tex-Mex spot. John had been asking me to bring him something to suck on, since his throat was irritated from having a tube crammed down it that first day. When I spotted his favorite little lime-flavored mints at the entry, I whispered to Austin "lets each sneak a handful for Dad on the way out." When the time came, I chickened out, and instead told the fellow at the counter about having a very sick husband in the hospital who adores those mints, and wondered if he would be willing to sell me a small bagful. Instead he hands me a giant 2- or 3-pound bag, and refuses to take my money. "Just promise me that, when he gets well, you will bring him back here to eat." I choke up every time I think about it, and it all makes me wish I had been a better friend to my own friends when they were in crisis, instead of shying away for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.

There is much to be grateful for, not the least of which are the baby steps my hubby is taking towards recovery. He actually picked up the phone and called me first thing yesterday morning, then sent me text messages of encouragement throughout my flooding ordeal, and even joked about my hint of snarky sarcasm when he said it was probably time to get the septic tank pumped out anyway, and I replied "Ya think?!" He also finally felt like eating some of his jello and broth, and never threw up once, though he refused to let us remove that pink plastic pan from his bed "just in case." By the end of the day the doctors "downgraded" his status from intensive care to intermediate care, which is actually an upgrade as far as we are concerned, then moved him to a different unit where the rooms are somewhere in between the ICU and a regular room. I know that's a good thing, but I must admit, our corner room back in ICU felt much safer and more serene. Anywho, like I said, baby steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


John and I were big fans of the TV show House when it first came out -- back before it turned into a soap opera. We used to wonder if there really were doctors like him and his team in hospitals, who just sat around their dry-erase boards, tossing ideas back and forth to each other, while avoiding actual patient contact as much as possible. It seemed a bit far fetched to us. Well, I'm here to tell you that, here at our hospital, there are several Houses, with herds that follow them everywhere, and my hubby has a cameo role in their latest episode.  We have the neuro herd, the internist herd, the hypertension herd, etc., and they take turns huddling beside his bed, shining their flashlights in his eyes and asking him to wiggle his toes, then murmur amongst themselves, occasionally sharing with me a few highlights from their last powwow.

The first doctor we had contact with -- the one who performed John's angiogram as soon as he was admitted -- warned me that this would be a marathon, not a sprint. He said the fact that John was alert and talking was good, but cautioned me that we were still in the eye of the storm so to speak. He wasn't kidding.

I overheard one member of this mornings heard say to John as he was leaving, "You're really lucky man, that's a lot of blood in your brain." That blood is now working it's way out through his spinal fluids, and are the reason his headache, dizziness and nausea are worse now than they were when he came in. I guess the fact that he doesn't already have permanent damage from all that blood is our first little miracle. We're gonna need a few more.

In addition to them figuring out how to keep his blood pressure down so he doesn't have another bleed, we need to pray that he can go a couple of weeks without any vasospasms -- a sudden constriction of an artery which causes a decrease in blood flow, which in turn can cause a stroke. Here his "old clay pipe" veins might actually be in his favor, as they are less likely to do this. A woman comes in every day with a "doppler" machine, like an ultrasound, and spends about 30 minutes rubbing it around on his head, going whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, searching for any signs of constriction. If he can go at least eight days without this happening, everyone will finally start to breath a little easier.

As my daughter said when she came dragging over the finish line of her first 5K mud run recently, "I really should have trained for this!"

Monday, October 15, 2012


Well, I hate to tell you this, but it looks my hubby is taking me on another of his "adventures" -- but not to Paris this time. We were having just the loveliest time Sunday morning, laughing and joking as we ordered our lunch at Mima's, when out of the blue, somewhere between our booth and the condiment bar, he just dropped to the floor. He came to a moment later, and was talking to me, but I had them call the paramedics because I feared he might have had another little stroke. The ambulance took us to the nearest hospital, which was about 15 minutes away in Kyle. When the doctor found out he is on Plavix, a blood thinner, and that he might have hit his head on the concrete floor, she ordered a CAT scan. Next thing we knew, he was on a helicopter headed for Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.

There were signs of bleeding in his brain, but after doing an angiogram, we were told it was not from a bump on his head. The problem was an "intracranial fusiform aneurysm." Unlike the balloon-type aneurysms, this kind isn't as likely to rupture. The doctor said some veins are like old clay pipes, and because of his hypertension putting pressure on them, this section of "pipe" was swollen, which may have caused a little crack or fissure. He also said these things are often self-healing, if you can keep the pressure off of them. But, as we all know, where my hubby is concerned, that's a really big IF!

Right now he is fully-functioning and alert, his only complaint being a medium-strength headache and some dizziness and nausea when he moves around too much. He is still in ICU, and will be for a while, until they are sure he is out of danger. Your prayers and positive vibes would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I have a new/old friend who found my blog several years ago when she and her hubby were still living in California, but had bought a house here in Wimberley. They were planning to move here when her hubby took early retirement from his law enforcement career, and had rented their Wimberley house out in the meantime. We became friends through her comments on my blog, and met for lunch a few times when they were here, but she had already been reading my blog for several years before she ever saw Seasonality (the name of my house as well as my blog) in person. When she finally did, she was totally discombobulated. Nothing was as she had pictured it! At first, she couldn't put her finger on it. Then, drawing on her editorial background, she figured out what the problem was. She said that most of my photos were taken either from close up, or using my zoom, in order to give readers a better view of whatever I wanted them to see. But, with no distance shots to ground them, and tie them into the house or the spot where I was standing, it was impossible to put things into perspective, or to tie all the various parts into one another. 

So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you a little tour of the place and explain a few things, lest anyone else is in danger of discombobulating. Take that little church house in the picture above. I've posted tons of pictures of that over the years, but rarely without using my zoom. Our house is two-stories on the side that faces the roads, but that's not really the front of our house. That's the back. Notice I said "roads", not road. First is the little gravel driveway which branches off from the paved one, running right up next to the house, and leading to a tiny parking area on the far side. Then just beyond that big grassy area that we have left au naturale, there is the street we live on. The far edge of that street is a cliff that drops straight down to the creek, which is hidden in that clump of trees. Our property ends in the middle of the creek. On the other side of the creek are a couple of houses tucked up into the trees, and the church house complex. Unlike ours, their properties are flat, so they keep them nicely mowed. Beyond their little meadow is the street they all live on, and beyond the next clump of trees is the highway. Got it? OK, let's climb back up the hill to our place, and take a look around.

This is the thing that confuses people the most. If you are looking at our house from the main road, it looks like a single, massive building up on the side of the hill. However, if you follow our driveway around to the rear, you will see that it's actually two smaller buildings, one directly behind the other.

Here's the house on the right. This upper level is the part where we actually live -- just three rooms across and one deep -- and has no interior connection to the downstairs rooms.

Behind the house is our garage and utility room, with a hay loft style storage area up above.

At the end of the driveway you step down onto a little gravel pathway that leads to the pump house. To the right of the pathway are John's flower beds, which are held up by a huge cinderblock retaining wall that drops straight down to the lower parking area I mentioned earlier. To the left of the path is a nice stone patio that John added a year or two after we bought the house.

See? That's the edge of the flowerbeds, looking down over to the lower level.

Now, if you want to get to the downstairs rooms, you have to go back to the other side of the house and come down this outdoor staircase, which leads to the lower porch. No, we don't actually have outhouses here. The people who built this place just thought it was funny to put little moons on all the outbuildings. This one is where we would put a propane tank if we wanted a gas stove or fireplace. Right now it's home to a million wasps, and who knows what else. We've always been too chicken to open the door.

This is the downstairs porch, which faces onto the terraced Cantina Garden, our only fenced in space. The first door on the left is to the guest room, and the one on the far end leads to John's man cave, which has a little office space and a small storage room behind it. In between are the bathroom and another large storage/mechanical room. At the far end of the porch is that little gravel/weedy parking area, the rain tank, and a couple of deer tracks leading off to the edge of our property.

Here you see the infamous half-painted retaining wall and half-dead shrubs, with the stone patio and pump house above, and parking area below.

And here is the view from the lower porch, out through the garden gate, and beyond to the hills across the highway.

So there you have it. Hope you've enjoyed your little tour, and that it has managed to tie all the bits and pieces together for you -- put things more into perspective. Questions anyone?