May 2019

Wednesday 1: Despite the fact that none of the complex tests of Julie’s brain have shown anything abnormal, except perhaps one, she continues to have the strangest hallucinations I have ever heard. One notable one from today was that she had seen elephants walking on the ceiling! The exception test was a simple cognitive test done today (and I must admit that I would have failed SOME of it), that showed (to me) a bit of “not quite right”. Apparently Nancy spoke to one of the Neurology team today, and reported back to me that the same test result was “well below average”, it appears that some of Julie’s brain has atrophied and there is potential for some permanent damage.

The job I thought I might get had already been filled by the company themselves before I was presented to them, so that’s a no go.

The webcam and the website that captures the images are both working spectacularly well, as demonstrated by this short clip of clouds going in both directions.

Thursday 2: Apparently Duncan had suggested to April that we should get Julie some Lilac flowers, something she had always liked. I went looking for them and failed to find any, so I improvised with a purple flowered Viola instead.

Also in the picture, flowers from Nancy on Sunday, and a Pocket Talker, designed for Julie to wear at the front somewhere, so that she can hear people when they are talking normally, instead of using hearing aids.

Today’s effort at the hospital was looking towards Julie being released from the ward, to go straight to a rehab facility, either the one on-site at the hospital, or if they have a vacancy, View Ridge Care Center in Everett, with whom the VA has a contract.

They did and she was transferred..

Friday 3: Julie is so much more relaxed at View Ridge, without being disturbed every half hour. She is still a bit confused, but talking normally, or as normally as someone can with most of her top teeth missing. Occupational Therapy visited and looked at her ability to sit up on the side of the bed and to stand. Standing is very shaky, but sufficient to transfer to a wheelchair and then to the toilet for a well earned pee.

Saturday 4: Physical Therapy arrived on the scene. Her performance on the cognitive test was even worse than the one at the hospital. Her final test was to stand for up to 6 minutes. She lasted about 20 seconds! However, having transferred to a wheelchair, we took a tour around the facility, including a look at the shower area, which got us away from the new room mate and the blaring TV for a while.

As a side note, I thought about how I would have drawn the clock face in the cognitive test. The logical brain would have done the 12 and 6, then the 9 and 3, then filled in the other numbers!

Back at home, Buddy is clearly missing her. He regularly hops up onto the my chair and expects me to share it with him. I must be doing something right, because last night my watch recorded probably the best sleep I have had for a VERY long time, nearly 8 hours, from 10:45 to 6:45, with a massive 5-1/2 hours of deep sleep.

Wednesday 8: Julie’s strength is slowly improving, as expected. Yesterday she did one length of the parallel bars, and again stepping sideways. She is also able to paddle her feet in the wheelchair to move around. I take her for at least one walk each day while I am there.

Meanwhile the job search continues, frustratingly slowly. I’ve applied to Community Transit to drive their buses, and also to Mike’s work place, among others. Yesterday I visited WorkSource, who are a resource for job seekers. The nice lady ripped my resume apart (figuratively) and showed me how to acquire a template. My resume went from 3 pages to 2!

Thursday 9: The highlight of the the day was applying for multiple jobs, which at least will keep the Unemployment Benefit people happy. I even applied to be a trainee call taker at the Snohomish County 911 location, but backed off when I realised that I would have to be able to type rapidly while potentially listening to multiple inputs and looking at up to 5 screens!

After the substitution of a viola for some lilac, I have been noticing lilac bushes everywhere, including one that is just one street away from home, from which I snipped a sprig. Further down, just after the arterial street, there is a huge one.

Friday 10: Julie is now eating her meals in the dining room, so she gets a bit of company instead of staying in her room.

To add to the woes, my laptop was sitting on a chair with the charger cord looped around it. When Julie pulled the chair forward so that she could use it to get off the bed, the laptop landed on the floor. The damage appears to be permanent.

Saturday 11: After collecting the check from April’s “house”, I converted it into a cashier’s check and took that to her new apartment complex. I collected the keys and did the move in inspection. This is the view from the balcony. If you look REALLY hard, you can see snow on the high peaks of the Olympics.

The laptop disaster is not quite as bad as I had feared. The old one is still broken and at the age it is now, it’s not worth repairing. I pulled April’s “new” one apart and was surprised to see that it contained an mSata disk, which looks a lot like a wifi card, just double the size. I bought a 1TB one of those, along with two USB3 to disk adapters, so that I could replace the working disk with the new one in the working laptop, install Windows and get it moving. Things have come a LONG way since I first started playing with laptops. Everything here is on the same level and so easy to access!

Sunday 12: Things got a little bit easier when I realised I could disconnect the existing disk in Duncan’s laptop, hook the old disks up to the USB ports and it would run like the original! Now when I get stuck trying to remember how something was laid out, I have it as a reference.

We did manage to escape from the facility long enough to track down a Round Table Pizza place in Lynnwood and celebrate Mothers Day with a salad. I could see an issue arising where her current wheelchair has a fixed base under the seat and I would not be able to get it into the car. I suggested that we should arrange a swap with one that folds, and was ignored, so we ended up taking the “advice” of one of the Nurse Aides and going with our own walker, which involved taking her to the car in the wheelchair and taking the wheelchair back inside. Once we reached our destination, out came the walker and between us, we got her transferred into it, sitting on the chair. Some careful navigation around potential obstacles and into the store. Same in reverse to return.

Maybe I should mention that at Tuesday’s Care Conference! After all, we have external appointments coming up on Friday and the following Monday. Hmm, I might just do that and see how many people, who should know better, I can embarrass. It can be pretty bloody frustrating trying to work with the chain of command when half the chain is missing.

Monday 13: I bailed up one of the Physical Therapists today to find out how much Julie has progressed with her walking. Today she had walked about 30 feet using the walker (theirs, not ours). She is still not allowed to walk unattended, so she continues to wheel (with her arms) or paddle (with her feet) in the wheelchair.

I had cause to grab a clean diaper for her out of the closet in her room today. My nostrils were assaulted by what I soon figured out were the remains of the bowel accident that she had experienced in the middle of the night, two nights ago.  After I removed a bag of clothing from there, the closet smelled a whole lot better within minutes and the rest of the room recovered after a while as well. I took it home and upended the bag into the washing machine. Imagine my surprise when I went to unload the washing machine that I had the remains of a freshly washed diaper in my hand. Ewww. Again, half the chain is missing. Update: Then the lint filter in the dryer was LOADED with fluffy diaper bits, and the rest of the dryer load wasn’t much better!

Tuesday 14: I ran the dryer again last night on low heat, with little success. I now have a load of fluffed clothing to deal with.

Wednesday 15: Julie was confused this morning about where I was living and with whom, so I walked around and took some pictures so that she could see for herself that the only other living thing in the apartment is Buddy.

She is making progress. You can see the Pocket Talker. The “hair strap” is attached to a pirate patch that I bought, to combat her double vision.

Thursday 16: I was returning from visiting a potential employer and called in on the Everett waterfront area to check out where I needed to go for work on Sunday. I found the Fisherman’s Memorial.

Returning to the care facility, I spotted this at the local Community Church.

Sunday 19: I picked up a full day of work for today. The Port of Everett have introduced a $2 parking fee for the parking area while the Farmers Market is operating, and Diamond Parking got the job of implementing it. There were 4 of us, standing on the double yellow line on the only road leading into the area. The description of “a shambles” doesn’t even begin to describe the situation. Quite a few called it a “cluster ….”. At one point (for several hours), the traffic was backed up right down to 10th St, and down 10th St to Marine View Drive, with police down there directing traffic. Those who just wanted to get to their boat were seriously unhappy. Even so, leave it to a bunch of old guys to get the situation organised as much as possible. We ended up with 5 of us selling the tickets, with Muggins in the lead position. Once all 5 of us had completed the transaction, I would call the next vehicles through, with wonderfully wide sweeping arm movements (aha! that’s why my right shoulder is sore today), indicating to the fifth one to “stop right here”. I got used to saying things like, “Yes, it started today”, “Yes, I agree”, “You can thank the Port of Everett” and “Let’s hope and pray that they do something useful with the money.”

Next week, we’ll get set up in an area with space to pull people off the road when they require a lot of change, so that we’re not holding up the whole line for just one car. Again, get a bunch of old guys together and they can do anything!

Friday 17: I took Julie to an appointment with an ear specialist here in Everett to get her ears cleaned out. To my surprise, she used a small vacuum thing to pull the wax out, rather than the lavage I was expecting. That sets us up for Monday for a visit to the VA Hospital for her to measured for hearing aids.

Monday 20: Before we left, the Social Worker at View Ridge passed on the information that Julie is scheduled for discharge on Tuesday 28. As planned, we went to the VA. Wow, hearing aids have come a long way since we last looked at them. The ones we ordered are a fraction of the size and can communicate with her phone via Bluetooth. On the way back, we stopped for a bite to eat at Panda Express. Here’s the message from my fortune cookie.

OK, I’ll take that. More on that later. When we returned, the Social Worker grabbed us into her office and asked when we would like to go home. “Um, tomorrow?” … “Sure, what time?” … “How about 4pm?” … “You got it.” … Hell if I know what happened, but we weren’t complaining!

Tuesday 21: We were pretty excited about going home, and headed off to the MS Society place to acquire a wheelchair and a bath chair. Once we got home, we had some interesting moments navigating the inside of the apartment, with me nagging Julie about keeping inside her “frame”, which means not getting too far away from the walker, and as she as learned along the way, always setting the brakes before she makes any kind of transfer. It was SO good to both sleep in our own bed.

Wednesday 22: I received a phone call inviting me to an interview for a driving job with Delivery Force, delivering Amazon packages. Maybe the fortune cookie was correct.

Thursday 23: Julie walking around the apartment OK, and has mastered the process of going out the front door and rotating on the front step, to sit there and have a smoke, and then get back inside, while discouraging Buddy from escaping. She is still pretty tired by the end of the day, but as far as I can see, she has completely recovered. And then we have this.

Friday 24: I interviewed for the driving job and have been signed up, to start within 2 weeks. Thank you, fortune cookie!

I also got a job for the weekend, a 12-hour shift on both days, where the initial description mentioned (sand) blasting using dry ice. Bolted down to the Express office to take some safety training, then over to a hotel near the job site to be picked up by a contractor’s guy to take 4 of us to the Pass Office to get passes issued. 

We all meet the same guy at 5:45 tomorrow morning and again on Sunday. Turns out our job will be to feed the machine with dry ice. We might even be wearing hazmat style suits too. More on that tomorrow. Guess I won’t be barking orders at the parking job on Sunday after all.

Saturday 25: Yep, I look like this inside one of those.

It was interesting watching the equipment being set up and figuring out the purpose of the various component parts. Some of the guys were feeding dry ice into the blasting machine, while I was part of the team cleaning up the mess that was left. Unfortunately, my hip joint failed just after lunch and I got sent home, so I used the time to go to the only nominated Urgent Care facility open today, in Lynnwood, to provide a sample for a drug screen. Just my luck, I didn’t have enough. The doctor was very understanding and explained that while there was enough for his machine to test, if it triggered a positive on anything, there wouldn’t be enough for the lab to do further testing. Given that I have never failed one of these yet, we decided to give it a go. I don’t expect to fail this one either!

Sunday 26: Because I was now not working yesterday’s ugly job again, I was now free to take up the parking one when my temp consultant called, asking me to fill in. This time, I was on 13th St, which has signs at the entry redirecting traffic to 10th St, so the traffic flow was much lighter, and I could handle it on my own. Even so, after just 4 hours, my hip and legs were complaining, but I had received lots of compliments on my helpful directions.

Tuesday 28: Went to the chiropractor today and he wanted to see the recent X-Rays. Off I went to Providence and was supplied with a CD within a few minutes. Took it straight back to Rob.

Wednesday 29: Another visit to Rob, who looked at them and spotted an issue between L4 and L5, and yes, nothing to do with the hip. I have exercises to do to stretch and strengthen the area, and a small freezer bag of ice cubes for regular application. That’s why it’s called a freezer bag, right?

Thursday 30: I spent most of today clearing out the storage unit and taking the stuff to April’s new apartment. My back is killing me! And I still have a full load in the Dodge for tomorrow.

Friday 31: I got a call from Delivery Force inviting me to an orientation Day on Monday, which means I have passed all the tests and I’m in. I just hope my back can withstand 10 hour days.

With the help of Two Men and a Truck, who moved the heavy TV cabinet, we have now cleared April’s stuff out of Mike’s garage. I also had two beds delivered, so at least she has something to sleep on, and she also has a sleeping bag, so she won’t be cold!