Friday, February 22, 2008

And The Saga Continues...

We received more specific information today on what, exactly, the hold up is with planning my grandmother's funeral. The hospital mistakenly gave the funeral home the name of the ER doctor on duty the night my grandmother was admitted to the hospital, instead of the name of the doctor who actually treated her once she was admitted to ICU, as I told you all yesterday. Then the funeral home guy that apparently has our family's "account" was out of the office for some reason Tuesday and Wednesday, so it wasn't until he off-handedly mentioned to my mother yesterday who he was trying to get ahold of that the mistake was caught. He finally got the contact information for the right doctor...who was out sick yesterday. My mom called the funeral home this morning for an update, and when she found out that there was none, decided to call the hospital herself to find out what it is that they are (not) doing over there. The woman she spoke with very nicely told her that the doctor had indeed faxed the required paperwork to the funeral home, and that my mother shouldn't be calling the hospital, as that was the job of the funeral home.


I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me there...

My mother calls the funeral home back, and surprise, surprise, the funeral home says that no, actually, they have not received any paperwork from the hospital, but they assure my mother they will stay on top of it. About an hour later they call my mom back and tell her that the reason she had been told that the paperwork had been sent was because the hospital had confused my grandmother with another patient.


Finally, finally a little later the right doctor faxed over the necessary paperwork. Except it was written in the fine penmanship doctors are so renowned for, and the funeral home couldn't read it. So they had to call him back to get clarification. That actually only took another couple of hours instead of a couple of days (another shocker), and now the funeral home has to send it to the state, who has to ratify it, and send it to the doctor for yet another signature, and then once the state receives the signed paperwork back from the doctor they can send it back to the funeral home, and we can actually bury Grandmom.

Maybe we can still bury her Monday, maybe we can bury her Wednesday. It's still up in the air. That's okay, Grandmom can just ferment awhile longer, which, I'm sure she absolutely loves, since she was the biggest hygiene enforcer in my life growing up and made me wash places I didn't know dirt could get to when I was a kid, so I'm sure she doesn't mind a little prolonged decay...


Anyway, thanks everyone for listening to me these past couple of days. I know it's been oh so uplifting. I'll stop griping eventually, I promise.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You Seriously Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

I would have thought I'd be in CA by now, attending or soon to attend the funeral of my grandmother. But no, I am still in American Siberia, checking my phone and e-mail every five minutes to see if my mom's called with a funeral date. We're still waiting to find out when the funeral will be because of--you guessed it: bureaucratic red tape and the people who operate it.

Apparently in the state of CA, one needs a burial permit before one can bury someone. Prior to obtaining the burial permit, one must have a death certificate. A death certificate apparently has to be signed by a doctor or other medical professional, like a county coroner, before it is considered official.

When the funeral home contacted the hospital at the beginning of the week, they were given the name and number of a doctor to call for the signature, who they were told by the hospital was the attending doctor at the time of my grandmother's death. The funeral home attempted to call the doctor, to no avail, and finally found out that the reason they had been unable to reach him was because the doctor was on vacation.

What? Vacation?!?

That seemed a little bizarre to me, because I would have thought that even a relatively new doctor would have had the sense to inform a family whose loved one had just passed that they would need to make other arrangements for the execution of the death certificate if said doctor knew he was leaving on vacation the next day. The more I thought about it, it seemed less and less bizarre and more and more infuriating. The funeral home was at this point trying to convince someone at the hospital to find them another doctor to sign the certificate, but that wasn't expediting the process at all. It was Wednesday at this point. My grandmother died Sunday. We had originally been told the funeral would be Friday or Saturday, but were now being told Monday of next week at the earliest. "What is wrong with these people?" I thought to myself. Our loved one has died. We would like to bury that loved one. How hard can it be to find a doctor to sign a death certificate? It's not like it should be that difficult to find a doctor in, you know, a HOSPITAL. It doesn't have to be a "special" doctor. Any doctor will do. Crap, at this point, we'll take Dr. Phil.

Today my mom calls me to tell me that the hospital informed the funeral home today that oops, so sorry, the name we originally gave you wasn't the name of the attending doctor after all. So the funeral home wasted two and a half days trying to track down some doctor that had never seen or heard of my grandmother, and who was probably skiing in Vail at the time of her death.

Seriously, how do things like this happen?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rest In Peace

I have a confession. I wasn't paying attention in church yesterday. My mind was going in a million different directions at once, thinking about all that I need to get accomplished in the next two weeks: research for my practicum, studying for and actually taking my comparative exams for my Master's degree (the comps are basically my school's theological equivalent to the bar exam), and all of the other family/life obligations that are on our calendar during that time frame. And then, for some inexplicable reason, my thoughts turned to my grandmother. She has had Alzheimer's for years, and I began to think that she would probably die within the next two weeks. This thought came out of the blue. There was no reason for it, nothing had occurred that would prompt such thinking. I felt that it was an awful thought, and so I tried to stifle it. But it wouldn't go away. For some reason, I just had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that she was dying. I told myself that I was being ridiculous, and that perhaps if I was going to start hearing voices, I should seek professional help.

When I got home, there was a message from my brother, saying that if I hadn't talked to my parents for a couple of days that I should call him. I knew immediately that something was very, very wrong.

My grandmother had gotten sick the night before, and been taken to the hospital. This, in and of itself, wasn't that surprising. She's had trips to the ICU before, and each time made it out okay. She had a fever, was throwing up, and was diagnosed with a UTI. She was given medication and put on a breathing tube, and by Sunday morning, it appeared that her health was improving. The doctor did recommend that since her wishes were to never be put on any form of life support, that the breathing tube be removed. He did this not only to honor her wishes, but because he felt that she would be able to breath on her own. She was doing okay for a few hours, although the hospital did have to pump fluid out of her lungs at one point. My parents went down for lunch thinking this was just another hospital stay courtesy of Alzheimer's. When they came back up, the doctor told them she was dying. This was about 2:30 in the afternoon. That sinking feeling I had in church occurred about 4:30 p.m. I talked to my brother at about 5:30 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., she had died.

Part of me feels relieved at her death, and that in and of itself is a hard thing to accept. For anyone that has never watched someone die at the hands of Alzheimer's, it is death by inches, and it takes years. Rather than take your physical health first, Alzheimer's instead prefers to decimate you mentally, leaving you unable to remember simple things, although it does allow you in the beginning to be aware of the fact that you are unable to remember simple things. Then it takes your ability to say simple things, regardless of whether there are still things you'd like to say or not. Once it is convinced that it has properly imprisoned you in your own body, it then attacks your body as well. It breaks the communication between your body and mind, so you can't tell for instance when you're tired, which is why Alzheimer's patients wander. They just keep walking because they don't know they're tired. Incontinence? Check, Alzheimer's causes that too. When there's nothing left for Alzheimer's to take, the patient gets to sit listlessly in a wheelchair, unable to speak or care for themselves, until something like a common cold mercifully comes along and kills them because their bodies no longer understand how to or are capable of fighting it off.

Oh, and Alzheimer's likes to skip a generation, which means I'm up next.

So even though it sounds weird to feel relief at someone's death, there is a part of me that is glad, because it means that she is no longer suffering. But I'm still sad at her passing. I'm sad that I never said goodbye to her while she still able to understand. I'm sad we spent the last 10 years just staring at each other because that's all we could do. But I am glad that she is free.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day Recap

After last night I feel obliged to do another Valentine's Day post to set the record straight, because we actually didn't end up having our traditional Valentine's Day.

I had a leg wrap/massage and pedicure scheduled at a local spa I've been wanting to try for some time now. It was almost a perfect evening. The spa was really nice, and decorated/laid out in a way that had a calming effect. And their locker room was awesome. The only thing that took away from the experience was one little comment made by the technician doing the leg wrap/massage. She had just retrieved me out of their lounge to begin the service, took one look at me, and asked "Oh, are you pregnant?"

Hmph. Now, I know I have gained weight, but I was wearing an oversized, loose fitting robe that certainly wasn't accentuating any perceived baby bump. "No, I'm not pregnant, that's just where I store all the Godiva." (Okay, I didn't really say that last part...but I wanted to.) Then she tried to blame her gaffe on the robe by pointing out that it was oversized and loose fitting, and would I like one that fit better? I politely told her no thank you, but what I really wanted to say was "Would you please stop talking now?"

I do, however, think she was embarrassed, because I got a head massage during the incubation period of the wrap that wasn't in the service description. So either they've added it since their material was last published, or I got a free head massage as compensation for being insulted.

After my otherwise very relaxing evening at the spa, I came home to find that Hubby had bought me flowers and cooked my very favorite dinner, steak gorgonzola, and served it on china and everything. He even grated the garlic rather than chopped it because he thought that would give it a better flavor. Did you hear me people? He. Grated. Garlic.

When I have a recipe that calls for anything more difficult than chopped garlic, I think "forget this," and substitute garlic salt.

And for dessert there was chocolate mousse...that he put in a cake decorating tube and then squeezed into sundae dishes so that it would be pretty when he served it.

Okay, so maybe Valentine's Day wasn't as overrated as I thought it was going to be. I hope your Valentine's Days were equally enjoyable!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Married People Version of Valentine's Day

I was just talking with a single co-worker of mine, and she was lamenting that she and a friend had canceled their Valentine's Day "ladies night out" plans because her friend didn't think she'd be able to stomach sitting at dinner and watching all of those happy couples make googly eyes at each other.

So in my effort to be a good friend and try to avert any feelings of singlehood depression that might be overwhelming her at any moment, I tried to give her a different perspective of Valentine's Day, one that is a little more realistic, at least in my experience anyway.

1. Only a fraction of the couples in that restaurant will be giving each other googly eyes: the ones who have been planted there by the Hallmark companies to perpetuate the Valentine's Day syndrome. The rest of us will be cranky after a two hour wait at our favorite restaurant that for whatever reason doesn't take reservations, which we endured because of some unexplainable, automatic, obligatory response to February 14, and we will have no desire to make googly eyes at anyone by the time we are actually seated, no matter how in love we were with them before we got to the restaurant.

2. The couples that you see eating might be thinking how nice it is to have a night out with their special someone. However, it is equally likely that at least some of them will be thinking that the meal they waited 2+ hours for really isn't that good, and they will be wondering who decided to implement this "Valentine's Day" in the first place, and why such a thing is necessary when we could eliminate Valentine's Day entirely and let individual couples arbitrarily choose any random and mutually acceptable day(s) in which to celebrate their love for one another, which would result in a fraction of the wait time for a table.

3. For those couples with enough stamina left after waiting for a table to actually engage in conversation, not all of these conversations are going to consist of whispering sweet nothings into one another's ears. Some of it is going to revolve around such romantic topics as: when do you think you will get around to fixing the bathroom sink? and: did you remember to take back the rental videos on your way to work this morning?

4. Single people aren't the only ones not having sex on Valentine's Day. After the two-hour wait to eat, the time it took to eat, on top of the 8+ hour day you put in at work, some couples decide to throw in the towel and give up their oh-it's-Valentine's-Day-isn't-this-romantic charade and do all they've really wanted to do since the alarm went off that morning: go back to sleep.

Of course, for those of you who have been married oh, three years or less, or are still in the dating phase of your relationship, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. For those of you that can relate, know that you're not alone. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Urban Outfitters, Not Just For Outfitting

Hubby and I went to the Mall of America for dinner Friday night (yes, people, our Friday night fun was at the mall--it's the dead of winter and it's the Midwest, what can I say, we make the most of our options), and we had about half an hour to kill while we waited for a table. The little remote control "Your table is ready" alerting device had a whopping radius of two whole stores on either side of the restaurant, and seeing as how we didn't want to spend half an hour at the "Crepe Stand," we headed on over to Urban Outfitters to eat up some time.

Man, I have not been to Urban Outfitters in a long time. I did not remember them having such a wide variety of items other than clothing. They had books, apartment furnishings, and some items that, well, I'm just not sure what purpose they served. Here are some of my favorites:

A portable desktop Ping Pong set. Because you never know when you might get the urge.

A Finger Drum Set. For when the battery in your IPod dies at the office.

A toilet brush designed after everyone's favorite wooden boy, Pinnochio! No bathroom is complete without one!

This one is a little hard to see, but that's okay, I'll tell you what it is: a thumb wrestling ring! Tired of wrestlers who use their whole wrist/arm to win thumb wars? Put 'em in the ring and see how they do!

And finally, my favorite:

A Gummy Tapeworm! Who needs dessert at Tucci Benucch when you can have a sugary replica of a parasite?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Hey, How'd She Do That?"

This is a picture of two of our cats trying to figure out how the third one got "inside" the TV...they know how to open doors, but apparently haven't figured out the concept of "slide show" yet...

I wish we had gotten this on video as well as with the digital camera. They were literally trying to get on the side of the TV, were running back and forth in front of it, pawing at it, and meowing for a good 10-15 minutes trying to figure this one out. Eventually they realized that not only was cat #3 on the TV, but simultaneously in the same room with them as well?!? and they either figured it out at that point or got so confused they stopped trying, because that was ultimately the end of it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Best. Diet. Ever.

I'll admit it. I was the stick thin girl in high school that everyone thought was anorexic who now gets asked by strangers when the fat around my middle that they mistake for a baby is due. Most of the weight gain is due to the pill, although I would be lying if I denied that my steady diet of sugar and fried foods and complete apathy toward exercise weren't also factors. I've been trying for years to lose 15 pounds, but since I refuse to give up chocolate candy, chocolate candy bars, chocolate cake, chocolate donuts, hot fudge, brownies and anything Coldstone, I haven't been real successful.

And then I watched this video yesterday. I think these reporters at CBS 11 successfully cured my lifelong chocolate addiction in under five minutes! A warning: this video isn't for the squeamish. But for those of you serious about shedding a few pounds, we might be on to something here! Every time I am craving chocolate from now on, I am just going to watch this video instead! It uses sheer repulsion to abate hunger pangs (or chocolate cravings). It is amazing how effective it is. I haven't wanted chocolate for an entire day and counting after just watching this video once. At this rate, I'll be back down to a size 4 in no time!

Lab Tests Reveal More Than Just Sweets in Candy

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tweezers, Thy Name is Evil

I used to like my eyebrows. I used to get compliments on my eyebrows. Then, for some inexplicable reason in college, I got bored with my eyebrows and decided it was time for a new shape. That was eyebrow disaster number one. I spent the next several years slowly trying to get my eyebrows back to their original shape with a little pluck here, a little tweeze there (I have never been brave enough to wax my eyebrows), but it wasn't working, so I decided recently that I would be better off just growing them all back in so that I would have a clean slate to work with. This was the beginning of eyebrow disaster number two.

I made it a couple of weeks without tweezing before I officially lost all patience with the forest growing above my eyes and had to tweeze. Had to. It started out innocently enough. I eliminated all hints of a unibrow, and then began the process of un-bushy-ing each individual eyebrow. And that's when it happened. I don't know how it happened, but it did. I got tweezer happy.

At first, one eyebrow just appeared a little thicker than the other one. "This won't do," I thought. "Eyebrows must be symmetrical." So I plucked a few more eyebrow hairs out of the offending brow.

Unfortunately, I must have plucked out some key hairs by accident, because it changed the shape of the arch I had worked so hard to create. So I had to pluck a few more eyebrow hairs from the middle of the brow to get the arch effect I was looking for. But I miscalculated on which hairs to pluck, and only succeeded in creating a pointy-looking effect. I hate pointy eyebrows. There may only be arches, no points. So I plucked a few more hairs from the top of the eyebrow. I really should have put the tweezers down at this point, but I had to get rid of the point.

I stood back to examine my work in the mirror. ARGH!! There was still a point! I selected a few more eyebrow hairs from the top of the brow to eliminate, determined to completely erase the point. I stood back once more to observe my progress, however, what had happened could not be described as progress by any stretch of the means.

I had gotten rid of the point, but in the process had also gotten rid of an entire portion of eyebrow. There was now a visible hole in the middle of the brow. I couldn't believe I had been that careless. I tried to smooth the eyebrow in such a way as to cover the gap, to no avail. I stood there motionless as I tried to come up with a solution. I didn't, so I numbly continued to get ready for work.

Some people need to freeze their credit cards in blocks of ice. Me, I need to freeze tweezers in blocks of ice. Tweezer happy. It's a disease.

I'm just glad my bangs ended up being long enough to cover my eyebrows.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Has This Ever Happened To You?

I innocently was visiting the Web site of one our our realtors today, in the hopes of finding a current e-mail address for him--at least, I thought I was visiting his Web site. I apparently made a small typo when entering his Web site address (His address?, and boy was I surprised when a porn site popped up. For those of you who have ever mistakenly found yourself on a porn site on a company computer, you know that my immediate reaction was something along the lines of "OHMYGOSHMUSTGETTHISOFFCOMPUTERBEFOREBOSSWALKSINAND
SEESIT" followed by an immediate state of shock wherein your brain says "MUSTCLOSEWINDOWNOWNOW
NOWNOWNOW," but rather than listen to your brain, your body instead decides to fall over backwards out of the chair, and as you attempt to pull yourself up off the floor, you only succeed in knocking over all of the office supplies you keep on your desk as you wildly grab at the air in your hasty, desperate attempts to find the mouse and SHUT THE WINDOW. As your boss walks in to see what all the commotion is about, you decide your only option at this point is to madly pretend to be searching for a very, very, very important document amongst all the papers that are now strewn across your desk, because if your boss is watching you franticly search for something, surely he won't be looking at your computer screen? Right? Rrrriiiiiiiigght.

Just as you are thinking this, you realize that there is something worse than your boss seeing porn on your computer. Much, much worse. Your boss glances in the direction of your computer screen, but then DOESN'T SAY ANYTHING. Did he not see the porn? Or did he see it and DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING and will forever from this point on think of you as the employee who looks at porn on company time? You will spend the next two months trying to figure out what he did or did not see, during which time you will not be able to make eye contact with your boss and will blush every time the two of you are face to face.

Of course, now that the worst has happened and you think your boss did, indeed, see what was on your screen (or did he?), your brain and body figure out how to communicate again, and you successfully close the window.

And then when it is all over, and you have finally managed to banish the "adult oriented content" from your monitor, you wonder who decides to launch a porn site related to Minnesota realty? My small typo that I mentioned earlier? I left out one letter in that address. One. What intelligence-depraved pervert buys a domain name that would lead a normal person to believe they're visiting a site about real estate in Minnesota and fills it with pornographic content instead?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why I Don't Shop at Wal-Mart

So, supposedly this was a real cake ordered from Wal-Mart. Can you imagine the sheer stupidity of the person taking the order? It takes a special person to think that when someone says "and underneath that" when describing what they want written on a cake that the person doing the ordering actually wants the words "underneath that" to appear on the cake. In ebonics.