Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Color Day!

Well actually, this time last week would have been Color Day, but then I hurt my back, and lifting my arms above my own head would have resulted in bloodcurdling screams, and possibly a trip to the ER. I'm talking about hair color here, by the way. So I didn't do it. There was always Vicodin of course, but I didn't think drug-induced hair color was such a great idea. I could have passed out and knocked myself unconscious in the sink.

So. The color on the box is red. The name on the box is some kind of red. We'll see if what comes out is even remotely red. Because boxes lie. They sell all the boxes that don't lie to the hairdressers. It did start to turn orange as it sat on my hair, which is a promising sign. 

It's about time to go rinse it off . . . but then it will have to dry, which will take a couple of hours or so. In the meantime I will tell you all the fascinating details of my evening.

One very important thing, which gives this experience a frightening element of surprise and abject terror is . . . that I bought . . . a DIFFERENT BRAND. Why on earth would I do this, you say? Subject myself to the complete unknown? Because lurking in every box of hair color lies who knows what? There can be only one answer. In the entire wall, of boxes of haircolor, there was only one color that I wanted. And it was an OTHER brand. What could I do? I WAS AT THEIR MERCY!!

I opened it suspiciously, and my worst fears were confirmed. Where was the little container of conditioner that goes on the dry ends of my hair? Nada. None! Well FINE, I will just use some of my own, since they were too cheap to give me any. And Good Lord.  Where is the tube of conditioner that you get to have and use for the next couple of weeks? You've got to be kidding me!! It's the size of a fast food condiment! This is going to cover about one tenth of my hair, if I use both of them. I am sooo not impressed.

Now normally, two boxes of hair color will cover my hair. Oh, I'm being punished for buying the OTHER brand! I KNEW IT! The bottle is smaller, and the stuff comes out like water, not the thick stuff I'm used to, the kind that goes a long way. This is really not looking good. I don't see how on earth it's going to cover all of this hair. What am I supposed to do now, drive to Walgreens with no shirt on except my color cape, orange goo hair piled on top of my head, and my clear plastic gloves, and purchase another one? Even in my neighborhood, this would be questionable. I may end up with two toned hair, and not in a good way.

And the instructions! After coloring the roots: Comb out the color onto the rest of the hair. HAHAHAHAHAHA. MY HAIR DOESN'T GET COMBED. Only when there is a quart of conditioner on it, and under hot running water, does it get combed, and that is with a big fat comb! I have ridiculously thick curly hair that grows in little tiny corkscrews, and they all wind around each other. One bottle barely covered the roots. I'm in big trouble here. I just pile my dreadlocked hair on top of my head, and squeeze the second bottle for all it's worth, and just keep glomming it all around until I think it's covered.

At this point, I read the box to see how long to leave this mess on. The first thing the instructions say: Do Not Rub the hair color into the scalp. What? Don't rub it? How exactly would I spread it around? And what happens if I do? Since I already did!  . . . Is it going to fall out? Break off? Turn some other color? I HATE REVLON!! There. I said it. Spiteful, stupid, evil Revlon, and their dumb hair color. Bad, OTHER brand. Never again.

Time to rinse the stuff out. First you have to lather it all up like it's a shampoo, and then rinse it forever. I manage to get all the lather out of my eyes after a while, and I open them. BLOOD!!! MURDER!!! OMG!! I'M GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!!! Wait. It always looks like this. I don't know why I forget in between hair colors. The shower splashes it all over, and it looks like everything is covered with blood, including running down ME, and I have a Psycho moment. Okay, I've pulled myself together. Well this was just a more realistic red, that's all. The last color was more purple. I convinced myself I wasn't standing in a bathtub full of blood, and look at things a little more analytically. It's not a bad color . . . it's not bright orange. It's kind of like a muddish reddish color. 

Then the more that comes out of my hair, it looks purple. I convince myself that standing in a tub of wine might not be a bad thing. After all, people squash grapes with their feet, right? I always thought that was a little creepy, but it's considered normal. I wait for the water to run clear. And I wait, and I rinse, and rinse. It's not clear, and it's not going to be. I rinse some more. All right, I'm sick of this rinsing business and now it's time for conditioner. I get my little condiment containers, and they each hold about a teaspoon of stuff. Yeah, that covered about 2 square inches. Well it's a lucky thing that I had a huge pump jar of my own! I'd have been in a huge pickle, all right. Now I start rinsing, and more color comes out, and more and more... And I rinse, and I rinse and that's it, I'm getting out. I will just have to remember to wear a shirt I don't like, in case it gets oranged.

Well, the roots are definitely red! That was the gray/white part, so of course it looks red. The rest of my hair was pretty dark, so it's still dark. Tall people, the ones that see the top of my head, will see some red hair. Other people, that see the rest of my head . . . I don't know. I'm guessing it will look red in the sun. I don't really spend time in the sun, so It will look best on the way from the car into the grocery store.

I suppose the really good question here, is why on earth do I do this myself? Do I enjoy a challenge? No.
The reason is, I can't afford it, it just doesn't fit into my budget - now that I know what a budget is and I have one. I really need a better job, so that I can support this head of hair.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Important Things About My Dad

My dad liked red. He would have been happy if everything he owned was red. Since Mom wasn't fond of the idea of having a red house, he made do with red cars, and red pickup trucks. We gave him red shirts, red ties, and red pajamas for Christmas and birthdays. And in turn, he gave me dresses that were red, or partially red. Whenever I see a red house, I think, "there's a house that Dad would like." 

He had a lot of good stories. He was quiet a lot of the time, but when friends or family were over - which was often - and the storytelling started, hysteria ensued. My favorite part of all of this is when he and Mom couldn't agree on how or when something happened. Or even who was there. This was pretty much a given part of any story. Then the biggest part of the whole thing would be about the dispute, and both of them would end up shaking their heads, while the rest of us were in tears, rolling on the floor. (In this case, it's not just an expression. I did roll on the floor quite frequently, and well into adulthood)

Dad loved the mountains. In addition to camping, he loved driving through the mountains. He knew Colorado like the back of his hand. Most weekends, we would take a drive. We would go on picnics with family friends, near a river whenever possible. I was fascinated with every rock I saw, and felt obliged to take them all home. He never discouraged me from doing this. Probably because he loved rocks himself.  I was pretty much allowed to wander off to my hearts content, and he trusted me to find my way back. Which is kind of amazing considering the next important thing. 

He loved to worry. This is a trait he shared with my mom, which is no doubt why they got along so well. He would figure the amount of time (the absolute minimum) it would take us to get somewhere. If we hadn't arrived by then, he was officially in worrying mode, convinced we'd been in an accident and were lying along the side of the road somewhere. Or, we were Missing. His first words were often, "where on earth have you been?" Well gosh, we had decided to eat lunch, since it was a six hour drive. The invention of cell phones were an absolute Godsend. The standing joke between Chuck and Suzz and I was, "better call Dad and tell him we're not in a ditch."

He was good at cards. And dominoes. And all manner of board games. It was pretty much impossible to beat him. Which made me all the more determined to play with him, and someday show him up. I'm pretty sure it never happened. Every Friday night was game night at our house, with Mom and Dad and the next door neighbors. They would hoot and holler so loudly that I would have to retreat to my room if I wanted to hear a television.

Dad was a Bronco fan. I don't think he ever missed a game on television. And when they moved to Kansas, did he stop being a fan? Oh no. If the unthinkable happened, and the game wasn't televised, he would go out in the garage and listen to it on the car radio. Thank goodness they moved back to Denver, and there were no more freezing games in the car. I never heard my dad swear, except during football games, which is perfectly understandable.

He was a devout Catholic.  I don't remember him ever, ever missing a Sunday Mass.  I liked this because I always got to have a really pretty dress to wear to church, and a matching hat. I remember being really small, when Mass was said in Latin. It made about as much sense to me as it did in English, and it sounded amazing. In his later years, he went to church every day, until he could no longer drive, and then my brother Chuck would take him on Sundays. After he was housebound, he would say rosaries many times a day. I will always see him nodding off over his rosary, with a blanket over his lap. 

He could win any snoring contest.
He and my Mom were cool when they were young. They did really fun things, like climbing rocks with their friends. With dad in a suit, and my mom in a dress and high heels, because they always dressed for dates. They went for a ride in a small plane, the landing gear malfunctioned, and they skidded to a stop in a field of sunflowers. They were out on a date the night that Orson Wells did his "War of the Worlds" broadcast. They came out of the theater and everyone else was freaking out. They ignored it and went home. I guess the worrying part didn't start until they had kids. I've always wished that I could have been one of their friends, and hung out with them. My dad drove like a race car driver when he was old, so I'm guessing he was tons of fun as a teenager.

He had a Sweet Tooth. He has passed this trait on to me, and on to my daughter. My mom made homemade desserts all the time, and as soon as that was gone, she was making something else. But just in case, he always had a stash of Little Debbie's somewhere. And store bought cinnamon rolls, which were abominable compared to the ones my mom made. But there was never a chance of having a sugar shortage.

He was a hero. And not just mine. I remember him dashing into a swiftly running river, in his good shoes and pants, and snatching up a toddler, who was quickly getting washed away. If he was down to his last ten dollars, he would give it to someone else if they needed it. He was so amazingly generous. If anyone needed help, he was there. Up until the day he could no longer speak, he was still asking if we were all okay. 

I hope with all my heart that he and my mom are together, because they were such a great couple, and loved each other so much. And I hope that they have all their friends around them, from back in the day. They were really funny, and so much fun. I miss them so much, but all good things come to an end. So this lifetime is over for him, but I feel certain that this was just the beginning. Safe journey, Daddy, I love you.

For Leo A. Quigley. 1917 ~ 2012 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Incidents and Accidents

I'm having a nice relaxing shower, when the usual thing happens. I start hearing things going on in the house that mean trouble. I hear dishes in the sink rattling. I yell, "SOX, GET OUT OF THE SINK!" Usually, that would do it, I'd yell once and the rattling would stop. Not this time.

Since I have four cats, you may wonder how I know which one is the culprit. Oh, they all have their little quirks. Sox likes to get up in the sink, and sniff the fresh air coming in the two inch opening of the kitchen window. He just can't help himself. And it never seems to matter what's in the way. Dishes in the sink, vases arranged nicely on the window sill, none of it matters. None of it exists. He just knows he can get his nose to a little bit of fresh air. Did I mention he's a bit of a tank? He's huge, and he just crashes over dishes to get to the outside air that is like crack to him.

This time my yelling doesn't work. At all. In fact the rattling got a lot louder, as if someone were stirring the dishes with a baseball bat. I didn't know what's happening, but nothing good, I'm guessing. There goes my shower.

I'm out and dripping wet, when I hear more pandemonium, this time in the living room. Commotion is not unusual in my household at all, in fact it's pretty much expected. But there is something different about this. On a scale of one to ten, five being normal, this is more like an eight. (an eight can mean that someone  rung the doorbell, which is a pretty serious incident.)

I get my towel, and step out of the bathroom just in time to see Bitzy, my black and white Rat Terror, jumping straight up in the air! And this is not the normal Bitzy jump - she sometimes aims for the top of the couch and misses (I hear a thud, she hits the floor). This is some kind of circus jump, where she is up near the ceiling! The ceiling! My dog can fly now? What on earth . . . ? And not just Bitzy, but the four cats are all worked up too. They are all puffed up and running back and forth frantically, all eyes on . . . the drapes? What do animals care about drapes? Oh GEEZ. 

At the top of the drapes, there it is. A SQUIRREL is running back and forth for all it's worth! The squirrel is in a world of panic, and moving so fast I can barely see it, which is what they do when they get stuck in your house. They don't stop and think about how they should get out, they just go as fast as they can to avoid being caught, and possibly dismembered by the raging cats and dog they've blundered into. And to be fair, they don't have the biggest brains.

I, on the other hand, completely freeze while I ponder what to do first. I should probably put clothes on. Yes. I will put on clothes. I don't remember getting dressed, but evidently I have. The next thing I know, I'm back in the living room, watching the squirrel run laps across the top of my sheer drapes. He's going so fast, I expect them to disintegrate  in a matter of seconds, and they will just drop to the floor, like something out of a 
Roadrunner cartoon. He looks just like a little buzz saw, going back and forth, his little legs a blur. I am imagining buzz saw noises.

I should have seen this coming, I really should have. There have been days when I've opened the curtain behind my computer to see a squirrel chattering at me, and glaring at me as if I'd murdered his cousin. It's not as if there's an actual ledge or anything for them to stand on, either. They just hang there, at an impossible  angle, impatiently waiting for you to let them in. I've seen them walk straight up and down walls too, which I find as unnatural as vampires. And yes, I'd seen them at the kitchen window as well. It just hadn't occurred to 
me that they would actually come inside.

Okay, I'm dressed, what am I supposed to do next? Believe it or not, I won't panic, because believe it or not, this has happened to me before. I have had a panicked, crazy-ass squirrel running loose in my house. And what did I do before? I left a window open so it could escape. Okay, that is what I will do again. But I had less pets that last time. If I do that, what will prevent all five of my rabid pets from following it right out the door? I will have to gather up the dog and cats and isolate them from the squirrel. I'm going for Bitzy the dog first, 
mostly because I'm tired of listening to her insane yapping. What a racket that dog can make.

It's amazing how hard it can be to pick up a nine pound dog. She weighs practically nothing, yet she is filled with so much adrenaline, I might as well try to lift my own body weight, and drag it into another room. And there is no reasoning with her. Bitzy, stop it!! Calm down!! Pshaw. I might as well be talking to the dining room table. At least it would appear to be listening. I grab up her squirming body and wrestle her out of the room. I can't even walk straight - she is twisting and turning like a high speed washing machine, her stiff little giraffe 
legs bicycling wildly, and still barking her head off. I put her in Alli's room, (which actually is Bitzy's room, we just call it Alli's room) and shut the door. Whew. That should calm things down considerably.

HAHAHAHA. I am left with four hysterical hissing cats, and one traumatized squirrel. Since Bodhi is the smallest and easiest kitty to catch, and actually likes being picked up under normal circumstances, I'll go for her first. All of the cats have formed a circle, growling and hissing. Mostly they are under the table, so I have to move the heavy, screeching furniture. (This does nothing to improve the squirrel's disposition) I get Bodhi fairly easily, but she insists on being carried over my shoulder, and then digs her claws in to climb over onto 
my back. I've never understood her reasoning about this. Once she's on my back, she's upside down, and has to dig in even more to hang on. I manage to pry her loose, which sounds a little like velcro, and stick her in the bathroom.

But darn, I need to give the squirrel a way out, in case he does try to make a run for it. I open the front door, and the storm door. Surely all that fresh air will be irresistible to a squirrel. Then the storm door  slowly.  starts.  to.  close.  itself.  For crying out loud! It's one of those handy doors that closes itself every time, so you don't have to. What genius had come up with that idea? I need to prop it open with something. I open the front coat closet and am faced with the mountain of things that inhabit the closet. There has to be something that will 
work in this mess. A hiking boot, that should do it. I have to yank for a little bit, but I get t out from under a pile of stuff, and stick it in the front door.

Nooooooo, the door is still closing! And it's mangling my boot in the process! Surely the boot will regain it's   shape someday? The things I worry about when there is a squirrel fast-forwarding around my dining room. Okay, the door is open, maybe I can sort of steer him out of the house with a broom? I get the broom, and by this time, he has dropped down to the window sill.  Let me just say this: neither a broom or anything else can 
be used to herd a squirrel. He's about a foot from the floor by then, within easy reach of the cats. He stops to rest for a second in the corner, his little heart pounding. He looks terrified, and he's so little! Such a wee thing, he must be a baby. I feel really bad for him, and start baby talking to him about how he just needs to calm down and go outside.

Easy for me to say, when he is surrounded by cats that are all four or five times his size. Time to round up some more cats. I get Punji the Bengal, who is the oldest and least likely to put up a fight. But she is heavy, dang, and her lack of struggling makes her dead weight. I put her in the bathroom with whoever else was in there. When I come back out, the squirrel has jumped up onto my mantel. Oh great! There goes everything up there, I think, framed pictures, glass vases and candle holders. But to my amazement, when he runs back and 
forth, he doesn't disturb a thing. It's a very sophisticated obstacle course, and he has no trouble navigating at all. He is clearly smarter than all my cats put together.

I decide to open the back door as well, and give him two easy escape routes. The back door thankfully stays open when you tell it to. I still have two more cats to capture and isolate. I'll go for Lily, just out of process of elimination. Sox is more than a little bit psycho, and I would just as soon put him off till last, out of general principle. Maybe the squirrel could just leave first - Sox isn't too smart, so surely the silly rodent could come up with a plan to get around him. Got Lily. I put her in my bedroom while she voices her opinion loudly, in a meow 
that sounds like a cross between a goat and Stevie Nicks. I have to hold her straight out in front of me to keep the claws away. Has the baby squirrel left yet? Nope, he's back on the top of the drapes. So, I will occupy myself with the last cat, the big guy Sox, also known as Shredder. It's always safest to pick him up from behind so he doesn't see me coming. Otherwise he would just chew my arms off. I've got him under the 
armpits and picked up, facing away from me. I don't touch him anywhere else, because that just sets him off. For some reason, the underarm carry seems to subdue him. I've seen it in a mirror, too, and it's the most hilarious thing, all four of his legs splayed out of his meatloaf body, all poufed out like a puffer fish. Into my bedroom he goes, and I am all the while shouting encouraging baby talk to the squirrel.

Whoa! Out the corner of my eye I see the squirrel zoom into the kitchen. This could be really great, couldn't it, he could go out the back door! But what if he didn't? I didn't really see him leave, now did I? Darn it, how the heck am I going to know for sure? I will just wait, that's what I'll do. I'll leave the doors open, and fresh air will billow through the house. I'll enjoy airing out the house immensely. Hmm. How long would a squirrel hide in a house if he thinks he's safe, I wonder. He could be in the laundry room, a no man's land of appliances and a 
boiler and mops and brooms. I go in and make a ruckus, to try and flush him out. Nothing.

Well then. I will just spend the afternoon enjoying the fresh air until I have to leave. I hope desperately that he isn't making a nest inside my couch. Because a couch would be the perfect place for a nest, what with the stuffing and all. Later, as I lock up the house, the pets still quarantined, I look over and see a huge gray cat 
sniffing curiously at my house. Well! Isn't this just dandy! While I'm worried about one squirrel, all manner of neighborhood strays, hoards of other squirrels, and yes, even a snake could waltz right into my house. Birds could have flown in! I could have a regular Hitchcock movie! There is no way I could watch both doors, now could I? I've for sure let in a ton of spiders.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bitzy's Great Escape

Today was the perfect day for an afternoon nap. It was quiet, and all four cats were asleep, leaving no one to torment me in my quest for sleep. Just looking at them, all curled up, warm and fuzzy, with the blissful expressions that belie what monsters they actually are . . .  I just couldn't pass up the chance. Who knows when this could happen again? Normally at least one of them would be doing something insanely annoying. The atmosphere of sleep was so pervasive, I was drowsy just looking at them.

A generous amount of naptime later, I began dreaming about a dog barking. It was ever so quiet, as if the dog were miles away, and I could barely hear it. Now, in the original dream I was having, there were no barking dogs. I was hiding from aliens. Eventually though, the barking gradually got louder, and began to disturb the plot of my alien story. The barking was still quiet though. I mumbled to myself in my dream, "That sounds a little like Bitzy". I began thinking more in my dream, and the aliens went away quietly, much to my relief.

Now I'm still sound asleep here, but instead of dreaming, I'm in a complete fog of stupidity about the barking dog. I'm not real smart in my sleep.

Hm. That really does sound like Bitzy. But it can't be, cause she's not far away like that. She's right here in the house, and probably asleep. And she'd be barking really loud if she was in the house, and I'd be jumping out of my skin. And anyway, how would she even have gotten out? Nah, it's not her. But the funny thing is, that dog is getting a little louder. Is it because I'm waking up just a little because there is a real dog barking somewhere? Or is there a dog just getting closer in my dream and I'm still dreaming? Either way, whatever is happening, the dog is getting louder. And that dog sounds exactly like Bitzy. Maybe it's just some other dog that sounds like her, because I really can't wake up right now, no matter how hard I want to.

CRAP. I need to wake up. Even if it's not Bitzy, I need to know for sure. It's really unlikely that another dog sounds like her yippy little Rat Terrier self. I really, really need to wake up. The dog is getting louder. For cryin' out loud, it sounds EXACTLY like her. And it doesn't sound like she's in the back yard, where she should be. The sound is coming from the front of the house. WAKE UP WAKE UP gosh darn it, I can't open my eyes. If my eyes could just open, I could maybe move my limbs. I'm asleep!!! I can't move anything. Crap crap crap.

Finally, my eyes unglued themselves and opened into little slits. I'm awake now, even if I can't move and now I know that's gotta be my dog out there. That's her annoying little yippy bark all right, with the strange combination of fierce gutteral growling. I don't even know how she manages those two sounds at once. Yup, she's after something, and that's not her Squirrel bark, either. That's her Human bark, and it's the Big Scary Guy bark, and she's gonna chew the leg off some big scary guy if she can just get hold of him. I manage to drag myself on my belly a few inches to my curtains, and pull them aside just in time to see our mail carrier, right in front of my house! And he is definitely a Big Guy, and therefore doubly evil, wearing that uniform and all. And there is Bitzy herding him, running around him in circles and barking her head off. For crying out loud!!! I've probably been hearing her for miles! That's why it was quiet for so long!! If it weren't so appalling, it would be funny - her little black and white Rat Terror self, with every molecule of her body in attack mode - going in a circle around the mailman, and she is about the size of one of his shoes.

I have to get her right now!! Before she's gone with the mail guy, down the block, and probably into his car with him. Not that he'll want her, but she'll most likely not take no for an answer. What do you think they do with dogs that insist on coming to the post office? Wow, then she'd really have a ton of postal workers to bark at. Problem is, I still can't really move right at all. This is like trying to move through ten feet of water. I have.   to get.   out.   of.   the.   bed.  I slide off, and land somewhat on my feet, still hanging onto the bed covers so I don't end up on a pile on the floor. Gotta get to the front door. Wait. I need pants. Where are my pants? Why didn't I put on pajama pants? I seriously can't go to the door in my underwear, not if I have to chase a dog down the street. How am I going to chase a dog in my sleep?

There they are, in a wad on the floor. Looking at those pants, nothing has ever seemed so difficult as getting to them, and getting them on. Why are they so far away?? Much less get the dog. Maybe the mail guy would like having a dog. Well, judging by the look on his face, probably not so much. But he might have to help me get her. I really, really need those pants. I staggered sideways back and forth across the bedroom floor, swept them up in a drunken motion, and stuck one leg in. I proceeded to hop around in a panic, trying to get the leg all the way in and down to the floor. I hopped all the way to the front door going in circles, and manage to have both legs in and pulled them up with my left hand, just as I opened the door with my right hand.

There was the Big Mail Guy, right in front of me. Right there in front of my door. I have all my pajamas on and all, (it's about three in the afternoon)  but my hair is pretty sure to be sticking out in all directions, and I have a half asleep crazed look in my eyes. He'd probably have been surprised at the timing of me opening the door right on him, had his nerves not been completely frayed by my Rat Terror. I know how she can erase your brain pretty quickly. He's being pretty careful not to look at me. I opened the outer glass door to get the dog in, praying that she will obey, instead of taking off down the street, which is a distinct possibility.

Miraculously, she does decide to come in the house, and zooms past my feet. Without missing a beat, the mailman mutters how it's fine, and keeps he going as fast as his feet can carry him.
Oh Dear God! It wasn't fine!! How long did that poor man have to listen to my dog, and how many people probably stopped dead in their tracks to watch the whole business? What if he's on Youtube by now? What kept him from drop kicking her across the street?  How will I ever face him again? He's a really nice mail guy too. He didn't deserve that at all, and now I'll be too embarrassed to even look at him.  Maybe he'll quit, and I'll never see him again. I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to see my dog. Or I'll hide for six months or so, and then pretend to be someone else who moved in.

So Bitzy trots in the house, with her little Hot Shot walk, black and white tail in the air, right past me, not even the least bit contrite.

Bitzy!! Bad Dog!! 

She looks over her shoulder at me for maybe three seconds, faking a little guilty cringe. Then she plops herself down, panting after all the hard work of policing the neighborhood. She grins when she pants, which is utterly maddening right now. She's sitting there grinning, and nothing I say to her makes one little bit of difference.

In her mind she has saved the day. She has protected not only her house and all its cats, but the entire block. Maybe even several blocks! (from the sound of it, it may have been several miles) She's not hearing one word I say about how she could have been run over, or eaten by a bigger dog. Much less drop kicked by a postman.

Ah well, might as well let her have her day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kidney Transplant Day ~ Five Years!!

October 26, 2011
Denver, Colorado

I woke up this morning with a serious case of deja vu. Not only was it the fifth anniversary of my kidney transplant, but it was snowing like mad outside. It took me right back in time, back to this morning five years ago. I woke up that morning to a blizzard. A blizzard! Yesterday, the weather had been just fine, but today, on the day of my transplant, it has to be snowing sideways. I don't see anything fair about this. It's only October, for crying out loud. I wonder if hospitals have snow days. I doubt it, and as long as it took to schedule this surgery, who knows when I'd get another chance.

I have to be there at 5:00 am. The hospital was very emphatic about that. I'm sure the six inches of snow on the ground isn't going to be considered any sort of excuse for being late, nor the wind that's blowing it in every direction. It could be an excuse for a doctor, I'm pretty sure, but not for a patient. I'm worried about getting there on time.

One thing about being the patient though, is I am being treated like a princess. My sister Susann has come all the way from Wichita to see me through this, and to take care of me for two weeks. My brother Chuck is here too, and my amazing neighbor Bert, from across the street. All three of them are outside shoveling and scraping snow like mad. I am inside the house, all warm and cozy. I'm piling on as many clothes as I can, because I'm cold just looking at the snow. At this point in time, I weigh just over a hundred pounds, and I am always cold, whether it is snowing or not. I am dreading going out there like you wouldn't believe. I can't believe they are all three out there in the freezing cold, cleaning off cars. They have to be insane. Any normal person would just say, "I'm sorry, today has been cancelled", and just crawl back into bed.

The other thing is, I'm a nervous wreck. And I feel sick. I mean really, really sick, like throwing up. I don't think they operate on sick people, do they, especially if they have a fever? As bad as I feel, I'm absolutely sure that I have to have a fever. Surely they can't do it today. We'll get over to the hospital, and they'll say, "I'm sorry, we'll just have to reschedule." And I would be so relieved, and just come home and curl up in a little ball in a blanket, and not come out until spring. And then I might feel like it. Right now I don't feel like it. I'm not ready! Make it stop! I'm scared.

What is wrong with me? What has turned me into such a major chicken? This isn't like me at all. The last two years have been full of medical events, and I didn't have any qualms about them, I just did what I I was told. I secretly think that all this medical stuff is really interesting. Right now, though, I'm shaking like a leaf.

The funny thing is, that up until yesterday I wasn't nervous. For at least a month or two, people had been asking me if I was nervous. And my very truthful answer was, "are you kidding?" Why would I be nervous? I was absolutely, positively euphoric. My whole life was going to change. I would no longer be spending three days a week tied to a machine for four hours. That's a whole other chapter of my life, and it was going to be over, and I would be moving on! I couldn't be happier. I could hardly contain myself. I was positively gleeful.

But for some reason, that morning, the jitters hit. I had been in and out of the hospital for various reasons over the last few years. But a transplant was a whole other thing. Suddenly it was a scary thing. A dear friend was going to let surgeons open him up, suck a kidney right out of him, and sew him back up. I didn't want anything to happen to him. The surgeons are really good, they do these all the time, and University Hospital is known for doing transplants. Still, if something should happen, I don't know what I would do. What if one of us went to sleep, and didn't wake up? Steve has three kids, and I have my precious little girl. Today, a transplant sounds like the scariest thing in the world. It's hard not to cry.

Scary or not, I'm going. All three cars are scraped and warmed up, and I am going out into the blizzard all bundled up with my overnight bag in hand, and this time tomorrow I will have a new kidney. The heavy coat I have on has to be at least half my body weight. I got in my sister's car, and off we went, our little caravan crunching bravely through the snow. Ugh. Riding in the car is making me feel even sicker. Waves of nausea are hitting every few minutes. I cannot even imagine how this is going to happen. We get to the hospital faster than I could have imagined. I get dropped off at the front door, and my three musketeers are going to park all the cars. I'm going to meet them upstairs, because it's already 4:45, and I don't want to be late.

I'm supposed to be in the Transplant Tower at 5:00 am. (this is at the facility on Colorado Boulevard, before it was moved to Fitzsimmons) I have no clue where the Transplant Tower is. It would have been a good idea to have found out, I'm thinking. I have always just asked for directions at the front desk. The place is so quiet I could hear a pin drop. There is not a soul in sight. It's darker than usual. There is no one at the front desk. During the drive over, I had been planning on asking for a wheelchair transport, because I felt so sick. I could barely walk to the front desk from the car, let alone anywhere else. What am I doing here before five in the morning if no one is working? I pretty much have no choice but to lean on the counter and wait, panting, with my heart pounding. I want to go home . . .
I can't believe I feel so whiny. I waited for this day for two years! I should be feeling nothing but gratitude. Instead, my stomach is churning, and my knees have turned to Jello. There is just no way that these Jello legs are going to hold up.

Buck up, missy! Snap out of it!

Finally, I see a person. A front desk person, as it turns out. I explain that I need to be upstairs at 5:00 am, and I need a wheelchair transport to get me up there. He is very nice, as are all the people at the hospital, and he says he'll call for one. I start to wonder where all the people are that I came here with. Surely someone will show up soon, and come to my rescue? As I leaned on the counter, I watched the clock. It kept moving on, with alarming speed, closer and closer to five. I bugged the front desk guy. "I really have to be upstairs by 5:00". I can hear the panic in my voice. The poor man, he will be dealing with panicky patients all day. How does he stay so nice? He is very sympathetic, but he obviously can't materialize a wheelchair. I think how nice it would be if he'd just offer to carry me there, the way firefighters do. But no, he hasn't gone to firefighter school, and he doesn't offer. I am on my own.

Front Desk Guy gives me directions, and it sounds simple enough. It's not too far, and I start walking, holding onto the wall, and stopping to rest. There are the elevators! I'm almost there. The more I walk, the sicker I feel. I get on the elevator. I'm almost there! Oooooh, elevators are not good for a queasy person. I got off of there just in time. The elevator doors open onto the most desolate looking floor I've ever seen. Not a sign anywhere. Just hallways going in different directions. No desks, no nothing. I've been sent to a no man's land, a hospital version of the Twilight Zone. I've watched far too many scary movies and TV shows, and now they've affected my brain. How do I get out of here?

Then, the most miraculous thing happens. A set of double doors opens, and someone I actually know walks through them. Jim Gallagher, a friend that had gone to school to be a surgical assistant was standing right in front of me, in scrubs and a hat. We were both shocked to see each other, what were the odds, and did he know where in hell I was supposed to be? Yes, he did. For the Twilight Zone, this is spectacular.

Next thing I know, I am in the transplant check-in room. And there is my brother Chuck, and Bert, and Steve, my donor, and some of his family. Well it was just a regular party up here, wasn't it? And I had been missing it, wandering around in my stupor. I should have not been such a weenie, and just gotten myself up here, for crying out loud. I managed to check in with the desk lady, which I don't really remember doing. There is no telling what I told her. Steve is in rare form, his usual self, not the least bit nervous. He is his usual wise-cracking self. This is no surprise to me. I really wish I would stop feeling sick. I want to be my wise-cracking self too. Right now, it escapes me. I hope I managed to smile at someone.

So. Time to get ready. Susann and I are escorted into a very spacious room to change clothes, and there is a comfy bed. Comfy beds atomatically put me in a good mood. I get my little surgical hat and gown and put them on, and I'm told to get rid of everything else. Everything? Really? No kind of underwear or socks? Nope. But I'm already freezing! I just took a shower, and put on nice clean socks, and now they are just going to confiscate them, like I'd brought in an illegal thing. What kind of infection could possibly contaminate the OR from my socks? I need them! Hospitals are always freezing. I've never really understood this. It's not cold enough to kill germs or anything, it's just cold enough to make you miserable. Could I at least keep my socks on until surgery? I'm pretty sure I got to keep my socks for a while. My sister Susann gets to hang out with me during all this, which is very comforting, and we find silly stuff to laugh about. That's the great thing about my sis, no matter what happens, we crack each other up.

One of the absolute best thing about hospitals (besides that they save your life and all) is that they have blanket warmers. If you are ever in a hospital, which I hope you are not - ask for a warm blanket. And when you get cold, ask for another one.  They will bring you as many as you want, and they'll always put the warmest blanket next to you. This makes me feel a great deal better, except that I still feel sick. I feebly tell the nurse how sick I feel, and I can tell it's no big deal. She looks at me like I'm a little bit crazy. I'm in the hospital, of course I'm sick. It's no problem really. There is no chance of me throwing up, because there is nothing in my stomach. Rats. And I am not feverish. I'm not getting out of this.

So, I get wheeled into the surgery waiting room, on a quite comfy rolling bed, with my pile of warm blankets. And Steve is already there! And he is looking mighty fine in his little hospital hat. We are informed that our surgery has been pushed back a bit, because the one before ours is taking longer than expected. There is a surgery before ours? Holy cow. I thought 5:00 am was an ungodly time for surgery. How do surgeons do this? Did they start in the middle of the night? Well, obviously they did, because 5:00 am isn't even daytime yet.

So we start waiting. I think that it would be a really good idea to go to sleep, because I really hadn't had any sleep. I spent the night being nervous. Ha! No one sleeps in a hospital, I knew that. They had to start messing with me, taking vitals and what not. For some reason they needed more blood tests, as if they hadn't taken enough blood in the last six months, and started poking around my veins. I remember to appreciate the fact that everything is checked out up until the last minute, even though they are seriously interfering with my attempt to sleep. I usually have a big fat vein in my right arm, but today it wasn't so great. It was hardly even there. I think I'm probably dehydrated. They came back and said that the results they got from my blood weren't possible. If the results were right, I should be dead. That's a bit disconcerting, but since I'm alive the test is clearly wrong. But I worry a little bit. Naw. I wasn't dead, so they would just have to find a better vein. And the best vein is in my neck. I don't understand how the blood in my neck is different from the blood in my arm.

If anyone is qualified to explain this, please feel free to enlighten us in the comment box.

And they couldn't really get at my neck easily, so they were going to have to tip me backwards. Seriously? I didn't know that hospital beds even did this, but they do, and they stood me pretty much on my head. (It makes me wonder what else that do that no one knows about.) I'm not sure how this was helpful. It didn't do anything for my upset stomach, but they got their better blood samples. But each blood draw was different, so how did they know which was right? They kept taking them until they got one that they liked, and that's what they used. And it meant that my line was in my neck instead of my arm, for the duration of my hospital stay. That turned out to have its advantages later.

Well, aren't we glad that we got there at 5:00? We waited, and we waited some more. One thing about scheduling surgeries, is they aren't like airline reservations. Well, that's probably a bad example. Maybe plumbing is better - you never know what you'll run into. Sometimes things just take longer. After waiting around, I started to regain my original excitement. There was Steve, happy as a clam, about to get a kidney cut out, leaving him with one. He wasn't all sick and worrying. I was going to get a pretty normal life back. People used to ask what I would do first after surgery. That was easy. I was going to drink gallons and gallons of water. And hopefully, it wasn't going to taste like metal. I could travel! Just a couple more hours. I could hardly believe it.

Finally, they came in and wheeled Steve out. He got to go first because he had to get his kidney taken out, and it would take a while. I got to wait for a while longer. We wished him well, told him thank you again and again, and how we loved him to pieces. He gave us a jaunty wave, and said something witty. A bit later, it was finally my turn!

You know the scenes in hospital shows where you see all the people looking down at you, as they wheel you along the corridor? It looks just like that. Except this time, there were my brother and sister's faces there too. My sister held my hand as long as she could. I could tell how worried she and my brother were, sending off their baby sister to get cut open, and her insides rearranged.

Into the operating room we go, and I am relieved of my mountain of blankets. It must have had my eyeballs coming out of their sockets, because a nurse reassured me that I'd be warm. I feel like I've been thrown into a frozen wasteland, naked. And sure enough, they covered me with some other really nice warm thing. Ahhh, I'm so toasty. I'm giddy, and they haven't even given me any drugs. The surgeon says hello, and tells me that when I wake up, I will feel really awake, and that I'll think I'm going to remember things, but that later I probably won't. I think it's funny that I remember him telling me this, but I don't remember half the stuff that happened after I woke up.

It's always a shock to get off the comfy bed, and onto an operating table. They are hard as a rock, and you land with a clunk when they move you onto it. And they don't feel wide enough to keep a person from falling off. I feel like I'm teetering on an ironing board. And I'm skinny! I hope they make these in different sizes. I'm sure there are good reasons for both of these things, and anyway, I didn't feel it for long. The big bright surgery lamp came and hovered right over my head, and blinded me into oblivion. I started counting backward from 10, and made it to eight.

To be continued . . .