August 16, 2012
Since I last wrote here, I have three times packed my bags and left home for short trips, which in the past would have led to journal entries upon my return, but here I am only getting around to setting fingers to keyboard now, when the memories of the first two journeys are no longer so fresh. Best I get to it before they fade even more.
My most recent trip was unplanned. My brother called to tell me my mom had been taken to the hospital due to showing signs that she might have had a stroke. Since I knew my nephew who lives with her was with there, and my niece who is a nurse was on her way, along with my brother, I sat tight at home and waited for updates. When it was clear it had been a stroke and not something that she was going to come back from quickly, I sent the necessary e-mails to people at work letting them know I wasn’t going to be around for at least a few days and headed to Illinois. By the time I arrived, they’d gotten her heart medication and blood thinner adjusted properly and she was stable. At times, she even seemed close to her normal self, just somewhat weaker and more subdued. At other times, it was very clear things were not normal at all. It was like her brain was trying to repair the damaged pathways or create new ones, and those connections were flickering on and off. A nurse’s aide came into the room and my mom introduced me with no problem, then a few hours later, a different aide showed up and she introduced me with another relative’s name and said I lived in Florida. Sometimes she knew she’d had a stroke and seemed to grasp what that meant; other times she thought she was perfectly fine and was very angry with me and the rest of the family for telling her she needed to stay in the hospital for right now. It’s been quite a roller coaster, and not the fun kind.
Before my Illinois adventure, I made a quick trip to Maryland, mixing business and pleasure. I got the business done first, spending most of one day meeting with a colleague who’s based there, though there was a lot of pleasure mixed in since we’re friends as well. The mostly crab lunch we had at a restaurant I’d have never found on my own was a highlight for sure. In addition to crab dip and a taste of my colleague’s crab imperial, I tried something called crab fluff, which turned out to be a crab cake coated in batter and deep fried. I’d call it crab cake tempura, since “fluff” makes me think of Jell-O salads heavy on the Cool Whip, but it was definitely tasty. After I wrapped up the meeting, I took an indirect route to my hotel by way of some cemeteries since it was still light out and all. The highlight of the next day was lunch with Mary (who came complete with a bonus Joe) and Deb. We sat outside on the restaurant’s patio and ate wonderfully tasty food and talked about stuff and things as you do when you meet up with fellow tribe members. After lunch, I went back to the hotel for a rest before heading out to Baltimore to explore more cemeteries. That didn’t work out so well, as I got the first one about a half hour after they’d locked the gate and to the second one ten minutes before they were going to do the same. At that second one, I did manage to drive around a small loop, keeping one eye on the gate and taking a few photos out my car window. If there’s a next time, I’ll know to go early. I did end up finding a cemetery a ways out of the city that didn’t have gates, but I was there for only a short time when it started to rain. Guess that was the universe’s way of telling me I’d taken enough photos for one weekend.
The weekend before my Maryland trip, Mr. Karen and I took a quick jaunt to the west side of Michigan. We saw an outdoor concert at a ski hill, visited an old fashioned roadside tourist attraction, stumbled upon a blueberry farm with a store where we bought 10 more pounds of berries (bringing our season total to something over 70 pounds—our freezer is very berry-riffic right now), spent some time on a Lake Michigan beach, and ate pie. It was a fun time, and we saw parts of the state we’d never been to before even though we’ve lived here since the 80s. I’m not sure what took us so long.
In between all these trips, I had some stress when the day after my annual mammogram I got a call that I needed to go to another facility for a follow-up. I chose to believe this was just a matter of them needing better images, not a sign there was anything wrong, as I’ve been told I have dense breasts that make it difficult to read the mammogram. Apparently the original films were fine, but there was an area of concern on my left breast, so I got three more images taken of it, in some poses I’d never done with the Mammomat before. Then I waited while those films were read by the radiologist, at which point I was ushered into the ultrasound room. After ten or fifteen minutes having my breast wanded, I got to wait some more before I was called back in to be told I was fine, the problem area appeared to be a harmless cyst, and I just needed to come back in six months to have it rechecked. Okay then.