My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.
Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.
This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.
There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.
Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.
Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.
The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.
I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.
If you look at my last few entries, you will read about the tiny, little cat bite that sent me to urgent care and then to the ER at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. I never expected what happened next,
Right away, at 6:40 or so a.m., the doctor in the emergency room explained my options. They preferred to start IV antibiotics, then transfer me to one of the larger hospitals in the network.
Which would require an ambulance.
So I asked, “Could I just go to the hospital myself?”
And he explained I could, but he would be discharging me against medical advice, and then I would start over in the other emergency room. Which might mean two separate emergency room charges. And not being monitored. And losing my spot in the triage line.
And he recommended asking for removal of the transfer charges.
Now they have drawn on me with surgical marker at this point and i can see my finger swelling and my infection spreading. Two knuckles are completely swollen and angry.
I want to get this treated ASAP. So I agreed.
I’ve seen every episode of House MD, I know infections that spread are bad.
That was an attempt at levity. I don’t think all doctors are like House.
This is only my first real hospitalization— unless you count childbirth.
Now, Easton Hospital has a long history in the small community where I live. When I moved here, Easton Hospital was still a small, independent hospital. A few years ago, the Steward Group bought it and made it a for-profit hospital.
Which, for the sake of trivia, increased the tax base in our borough.
But over the course of the last year, Steward closed down entire departments. When Covid-19 hit, Steward threatened to close the whole damn hospital if the state didn’t offer massive financial support.
In May, St. Luke’s University Health Network bought the hospital. My doctors are all affiliated with this network so when the urgent care suggested going to the emergency room, this one is about 600 steps from my house.
I didn’t know that in the transition, the hospital has not fully rebuilt its services and wasn’t equipped for my care. I would have gladly driven to the larger hospital. Oh well.
By about 10 a.m. my ER nurses have given me a second antibiotic (the urgent care had given me oral Bactrim), hand x-rays, and fluids. They also swab me for Covid as a safety precaution prior to transfer. That was squiggly. The hospital where I must go is full, so I have to wait for another patient to be discharged.
And it is the full moon.
I have my own triage room in the ER. At about 11:30, my neighbor, Sarah, comes and brings my phone charger, iPad, teddy bear and my favorite sweat shirt.
We talk, play cards, watch TV and learn that I am not allowed to eat. My hand may need surgery. The nurse apologetically offers me clear fluids but also offers me a milk. I ask for the ginger ale.
Lunch was Shasta. It was a perfectly tasty and cold Shasta that hit the spot.
The Easton squad arrives at 2:20 p.m. for my 2:30 transport. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has been good. I joke around as they strap me on, which this is really the silliest medical transport ever.
My morning routine involves feeding my menagerie, cleaning the kitchen, working with the Roomba to pick up my room. And a cup of coffee, some cockatoo cuddles, and a few rounds of Words with Friends.
This morning I retrieved some clean laundry that needs to be put away, and while I was chasing the Roomba the laundry basket fell. All my clean laundry was now unfolded on the floor.
I used it as an opportunity to pick it up one piece of laundry at a time in a wide stance squat and move into a calf raise as I piled it on my bed.
I ate super well last night, and wore work out clothes yesterday, but today I WILL work out.
While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Stephany, our contact with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. She has kittens for us to foster! We pick them up today in about 90 minutes…
Newkittens need homes
The teenager is thrilled.
We will pick out their names and anyone that is interested in the group or adoption— because you will see soooooo many pictures— can click below for details on the organization.
Cats are fully vetted and microchipped (and socialized!) before adoption. The adoption fee is $110.
They have four feral cats right now that need barn homes and they usually like them to go in pairs so if you know anybody with a farm or any kind of situation where someone has property and would like a couple mouse catchers let them (or me) know.
Today started from the get-go with an air that everything would be harder than it needed to be. I’ll spare you my editorializing and stick to my main message.
The other night, the teenager turned to me and asked what happened with our recent cat litter order. Now with four cats in the house I have 30-lbs of cat litter on auto ship from Petco every three weeks. I actually had this order ship early and I upped it to 60 lbs.
Petco Customer Service
It shipped on July 24. Well yesterday I tracked it, as our five litter boxes are getting low.
The UPS tracking system said “receiver has moved.” Ummm…. I haven’t moved in 17 years and I have been getting this order for more than a year.
I call customer service. I had a very sweet, very friendly representative named “Jean” who didn’t sound American. She informed me she would file the appropriate claim about the missing package.
I quietly said, “and in the mean time, what about my cat litter?”
She placed a new order, free to me, that should arrive in 5 to 7 business days.
Three 30-lb containers of cat litter arrived at noon today. Kudos to Petco.
Errands and paperwork
I finally wrote the letters freezing my Planet Fitness membership. I don’t have a printer, but the teenager does, even though it is running out of ink. I shared the letter with her on Google docs and asked her to print two copies.
Why two copies?
Because even though my home gym is in Easton, some of my paperwork says it is Mount Pocono even though I have never even seen the Mount Pocono Planet Fitness. The letters need to be certified, according to the contract, so I spent $4.10 each to send two. It’s easier than finding out I sent it to the wrong gym.
I had $33 cash and 15 cents in coins when I arrived at the post office. I told him to give me a few stamps and if he could get the total to an even number I would pay cash. At 55 cents each, the math on making that work… well he gave me 14 and it came to $15.90.
He’s probably now thinking the same thing I am— that 2 more stamps would have been the number we wanted, $17.
Ah, well. I’m still not convinced this federal coin shortage isn’t a political move to force Americans into accepting a cashless society. I’m still pissed that we moved our currency away from the gold standard.
Review: McDonald’s Iced Coffee
On the way home from the post office, I stopped at McDonald’s again for a medium iced coffee and to get my free fries Friday medium fries. I had mentioned yesterday that the caramel iced coffee tasted like a milkshake more than coffee.
So today I ordered a medium iced coffee for $1.29 (and my free French fries with a side of spicy buffalo sauce). The standard iced coffee comes with cream and liquid sugar, which confuses me because I think it is also made with whole milk.
Well I ordered mine with no sugar. I don’t like liquid sugar and I don’t put sugar in my coffee.
When I took a sip, it was awful. My Nescafé is better. But once I started eating the French fries and the buffalo sauce, my searing tonsils didn’t have any problem with the coffee any more.
Perhaps I will have to drink all of my iced coffee plain and compare them all. Get one from Dunkin, one from Starbucks and one from McDonald’s.
This is how I think they would rank:
So, I want McDonald’s to knock Starbucks down a peg as Starbucks coffee is bitter. But McDonald’s struck me as weird. We shall see.
Today, the teenager took Gayle and I to the lower end of her special creek. It’s the next journey as part of our virtual El Camino pilgrimage meant to foster spiritual growth and motivate our out-of-shape butts toward better fitness.
The teenager “slopped” in the creek (I think that’s the official Pennsylvania Dutch term for it) and mined for spiritual rocks.
The water was crystal clear even though the setting was marred with litter and debris. Birds sang gleefully as the highway noise competed for attention.
When we returned to my house, about 7,000 steps later, Gayle—the agnostic in our group— lamented that she’s never had a spiritual experience while walking, no breakthrough movements or epiphanies. I suggested that life didn’t work that way, at least not for me. My own personal truth comes in increments.
Then we turned the discussion to fitness and trying to stay motivated to be more active. We both said we’re bad at doing anything on our own.
And then we heard the ice cream truck. The teenager raced for the door as Gayle and I raced for our wallets.
That sure motivated us.
The Tony’s ice cream truck in pink and white has multiple things I need to try.
Somehow, the ice cream truck made me feel alive. Laughing with my daughter over the crazy flavors in the sour patch kid ice cream. Standing in the street, fully enjoying the urban summer experience.
The teenager has committed herself to her fitness goals at the same time that I have to use some serious discipline on my own behalf.
As the woman in her mid-forties with lower body cerebral palsy and a history of anemia, I have to join her.
The stress of my job has impacted my sleep and my blood pressure and the exhaustion that comes everything—from turning to various comfort eating techniques, drinking too much coffee and working too hard—leads to me not getting enough steps and not doing cardio or weight training.
That makes me look different, feel different and act different.
I like being a strong, fit woman, even if my body isn’t athletic.
My daughter informed me that she can’t work out with me. She doesn’t want her success or failure to have anything to do with anything other than herself. I respect that heartily, but I hope soon we can at least go to the gym together.
She downloaded the Instafitness app onto her phone. I purchased this app for $5 six years ago and it helped me make my body sleek and lean. I went all the way from 142 pounds to 110. That was too thin.
By the way, today I’m 142 pounds.
But why we like Instafitness— it divides workouts several ways:
By body group
By equipment (body weight exercises, dumbbells, and resistance band)
Some are labeled as weight loss
Each work out ranges from 10-20 minutes so you can mix and match to build a routine.
Today I tried an arm workout on FitOn. It was a 10-minute burnout session for upper body. I liked how complete it was, but man, I was not prepared for ten minutes of non-stop high intensity dumbbell pounding.
So far, and the reality of our need to get in shape has only really hit us this week:
We have made smarter food choices.
We have eaten most of the remaining “junk” in the house.
I have eaten less refined white carbs.
I have eaten more fruits and veggies.
My steps were averaging a sedentary 2,000 to 4,000 a day; now I am in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000.
I lifted today. Briefly.
The teenager is killing it— yesterday was chest, abs & lower body. She repeated chest & abs today.
I might even try to get up early tomorrow and do yoga. Maybe.
So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.
The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.
The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.
I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!
So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.
Tonight’s meal featured:
Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)
This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.
There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.
It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.
Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.
The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.
The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.
With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.
Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)
So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.
After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.
Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.
And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.
After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.
When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.
That was when the real adventure began.
I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.
So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.
That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.
But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.
I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.
Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.
I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.
I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.
But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.
I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.
I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.
I set her down.
I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.
I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.
I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.
Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.
I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter
In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.
On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.
Nothing serious. The day-to-day realities of life.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the teenager had some medical issues. I have a dental appointment for an adjustment to my crown that was a mild nightmare before the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s on the 17th.
My favorite kitten got out and was missing for 24 hours this week. Thanks to all my neighbors who offered to help or kept and eye out for Fog.
So his brother, Misty, and I went walking in case Fog was afraid to come home.
Fog found his way home on his own, as cats often do. But he no longer had a collar.
In Nala news, (for those that don’t know, she’s my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined our family in January) she has stopped plucking and has started barbering. This means she was pulling out her feathers, which, like with a teenager who “cuts,” releases endorphins that soothe. But barbering is the habit of eating the feathers but not removing them.
I hope this is a sign of progress.
This morning, the teenager and I went to Petco to get Fog a new collar (and we made sure all critters had tags with their name, address and phone—except Opie who eats his collar and since he’s microchipped AND is an amputee, we hope the neighborhood would “know” he belongs to us. He does have a tag, he just refuses to keep it on).
And we dognapped the neighbor’s sassy Maltese-Yorky for the day.
Lastly, I’m still struggling with some rather difficult itching. It’s a stress thing. The heat, stress, and my already overactive immune system (due to a myriad of pollen allergies and history of contact dermatitis) is prompting random hives. One or two, here or there, which despite daily antihistamines is getting worse not better.
Once a hive pops up, if I as much as touch it, it will stay and itch for days. I have some that won’t go on my belly, arms and butt right now. My thighs come and go.
So I post this things just to remind every one that despite what perfection people post to the internet, there are always struggles we all face, small and large.