Monday, April 30, 2007

Trip to Newton last night

I had hoped to take it pretty easy on Sunday. But, "A" was being evicted. And didn't have a new place yet. So - I drove down and we grabbed what we could move in the SUV and put it all in the now foreclosed upon garage. He's got a place to stay tonight - but probably not tomorrow night. So, I'll be heading out there again, and picking him up for the night. Then running him back out again Wednesday night - as he has to work Thursday. This is assuming he's going to have a place to stay Wednesday night.

If I was a sucker, it would have been much easier last night to pay his rent for the month... but I know that it would really suck if I did that now and got stuck doing it again and again.

He's finally going to get paid for his new job on Friday... which would mean that he can get another place then. Not sure how he's going to make it until then... but I figure that it's his responsibility, not mine.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Well, I'm beyond busy... work has been nuts. We're about two weeks into testing the system I've been working on. We've corrected most everything that showed up as defects in our system... but the system feeding data to us is completely a mess. It's still not in a good place to work through testing. So, they had someone set up a "load" to throw data into the system so that at least they can test the feed of data from that system to ours.

BUT - they didn't enter the data according to the test script they were given. So, there's about 500 errors... by the time you dig through them, about 90% are because the data wasn't put in right.. and about 10% because they aren't feeding the right data through. But because there were so many errors and it was such a mess... instead of fixing the data fed into the system - they assigned about 15 of us to a "swat" team to go through and clean this all up.

I was in the meeting where we discussed how to approach this. I suggested that we divide up into smaller teams - do a "triage" to identify if the data going in was right or not ... if not fix it and check that off ... then if it was part of the bigger issue - say data wasn't pulled correctly, chances are it's part of a bigger issue. Because generally speaking a single data item that didn't print correctly on a single document (but was entered correctly) is probably a piece of many items of data coming from the same area - and probably printing on many documents... fix the root of the problem and you can probably close dozens of defects. So these bigger issues should get assigned to another team so they can resolve the heart of the issue.

Sounds like a good process, right? Everyone agreed. I suggested that we have someone "managing" the process, so that they are aware of the bigger issues and managing who works which set of defects.

Well, the person who volunteered to do just that - didn't. I would have jumped into the role myself, but it seemed like I was the only one who could figure out what was wrong with the majority of the issues. So, basically, what happened is that every single person was working to identify the root cause of every issue ... with a LOT of overlap... and I was running around answering everyone's questions constantly, and repetitively, and then it was all up to me to solve all the big issues.

Sound like fun? It was definitely exhausting. We go again next week to do it all over again.

I did go through and at least write up summaries of the big issues that weren't closed yet with clear description of what's wrong - what documents it effects - and what steps are going to be necessary to resolve it, along with who was responsible to do each step, and any dependencies or steps that have to be finished first before others can be started. I started to get dates assigned to all the tasks - but then got pulled off again to answer more questions.

All I can say is thank goodness for at least my understanding of process and solutions - but why doesn't the "manager" get it???

Good news is that I've been given a full-time analyst to work beside me and she's in the middle of this team as well, so at least she's getting a pretty good taste of the work and getting exposure to how to handle things and how not to.

I ended up leaving the swat team at noon to get lunch on Friday, get some bloodwork done, and try to clear my head some. But, you should have seen the look on everyone's face when they realized I was leaving. They were near panic - which is silly, there were several who had left an hour or two before and we were pretty much as far as we could go until Monday. But you would have thought the world was ending simply because I was going to lunch. I'm not sure how I landed whatever role you would call this, I just know that when I look at what's wrong - I start at the beginning - follow all the steps and see where it's broken... and it just makes a ton of sense as to what and where the issue is and how to fix it. But apparently it's not that obvious to everyone.

I'm working on cleaning house again this weekend... Jon had a class today for work, which meant it wasn't worth a trip down to see me for only part of a weekend. But, it's slow going, I;m pretty worn out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Loving Memory - Milly Markmann

Mom passed away Saturday morning - with Cindy & I by her side. She passed very peacefully. We'd gotten a call around 11:00 pm from the hospital. She'd had an intercranial hemorage - no where near any of the three anuerysms. Unrelated to anything else she'd been through. They didn't think she make it through the night. My brothers and father-in-law stayed through the night, but at 5 am we sent them home. Thought that they could get some sleep, come back and spell us. But she passed away around 8 am.

Our understanding was that this latest event meant she would never awaken again, so I keep having to remind myself that this is the way she would want it. She would have hated being left comatose. I'm very glad I was there for her at the end - although I felt so helpless. All I could do was make sure the nurses understood that she needed peace at the end - so she was given quite a bit of morphine. And thankfully, everyone got a chance to say goodbye.

Mom was always so full of life, that this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with in my life. She truly was a hero to all of her children, and so many others in the area. On Saturday night, I stopped at my brother's pub for a drink before crashing - at least four different people came up to me to give their condolances and to explain how my mother had saved their life at some point. With 30 years of ambulance service, years as a hostess - waitress - cook, 50+ years as a homemaker, mother and wife... there just aren't enough words to explain the impact she had to so many lives.

The funeral was on Tuesday - we had the wake from 9-11; funeral at 11; and lunch afterwards at the Supper Club. This was exactly the way my mom wanted it, little to no fuss. She would have been shocked, I believe at the amazing number of people who came to the funeral. They set up 100 chairs and had to pull more out of storage, and it was still standing room only in the back. We didn't expect so many to take time away from work to come - but the support was incredible. The service was in Olin and the graveside service was in Wyoming - there were at least 50 cars in the funeral procession.

Almost the entire ambulance service came - and the emt's went together and purchased a heart-shaped stone, engraved as a broken heart with the words that if pain and tears could build a path and stairway, that we would climb right up and bring you back to our arms. I thought that was very generous. The bar bought a nice arrangement, the waitresses went together and bought a potted plant, plus they purchased a garden angel and a small shelf-sitting cherub. In addition... they refused to accept any money from my dad towards the lunch they put on... nor would any of the waitress except the $20 my dad tried to pay them for helping during the dinner.

They did a video of several of the pictures we had brought in for mom - I can't watch it again, it breaks my heart because it makes it all only too real. I downloaded the songs for the funeral - a couple of classics - "The Wind Beneath my Wings", "The Garden" and one that was just for mom "(I beg your pardon, I never promised you a) Rose Garden". I'm sure that if I hear any of them again anytime to soon, I'll breakdown again. Why is it the songs are the hardest parts of a funeral?

One of the favorite memories of all are our holiday card games every year. Mom would stake each of the grandkids about 10 dimes - and we would play card games. Winner take all. One of the games was 31, and my nephew gave everyone a dime and tossed down the A, King & Queen of hearts at the cemetary and everyone got to "give back" their dimes. My sister bought about two dozen balloons and some wrote messages on them - one of the nephews wrote "I'm on my honor" the phrase you would say when you lost all your money in the card game that kept you in the game until you lost another hand at least. My son wrote "From your favorite grandson named Adam" on his.

She was such a strong and amazing woman and will be greatly missed in this world.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mom's chances - have no one else to discuss this with

OK - there was a bit of confusion earlier this week about whether mom has any chance of recovery or not. Last I knew, she spent from about Thursday through Tuesday completely unconscious - due to having gotten a severe infection. They'd finally found the right combination of antibiotics on Sunday - and on Tuesday evening she woke up. She could look at people and could grip your hand... still not talking, but of course, she still had the tubes down her throat, so she couldn't have talked if she wanted to. On Thursday they did a tracheotomy because the respirator tube is allowing fluid to build up in her lungs and causing more issues.

It seems like everything that can go wrong has. When this all started, I asked the doctor what kind of chances she had of coming out of this with some functionality - which of course they don't always like to give - but I got him pinned down to "pretty good" which was good enough for me at the time.

Now, I had to do a little bit of investigation into how they determine "pretty good"...

According to a couple of web sites... they do a rating scale on admission into the ER. This is ranked from 0 to 6 and there are specific scores assigned based on symptoms displayed. At the time she was admitted she was a 3; and 0-3 actually have pretty good recovery rates. Although about 60% of the survivors tend to have "some" brain damage.

The only modification they make to this "rating" is that if they develop one of the secondary conditions - then they increase by 1 number. So - that means that mom is now a 4. Fours do not have as good of a chance of recovery - but they still have a better chance than a 5 or 6. 5 & 6 have little chance of recovery.

The problem is that they list three possible secondary conditions... and mom's had ALL three.

Encephalitis - swelling where the cerebral fluid doesn't drain properly - she's had a drain installed that we're monitoring closely and 1) the drainage isn't as bloody and 2) the drainage has decreased a lot - both are good now, but are bad news initially. This can cause serious brain damage, although, often times, it's temporary.

Vasospasms - where the brain reacts to the blood from the burst aneurysm and compresses the blood vessels - it's a natural function to stop the bleeding; however, since she had surgery to stop the bleeding - it's actually not a good thing, as it can keep blood from reaching parts of the brain, and can cause stroke and/or brain damage. She's only had one bout of this which is better than having it recurrently - however, it is the leading cause of death for people who have previously had an anuerysm.

Seizures - mom's had very small seizures quite often. You can't see them visually, but the brain was having recurrent seizures for about a week after the vasospasms. These also cause brain damage.

An anuerysm itself can cause damage - but they said that they won't do an assessment for function until after three weeks because they don't want any side effects from the secondary condition to cloud the assessment.

Add a serious infection on top of all this, and I can't help but think the worst. I don't want to, and there's still a chance she'll pull through with some functionality. But mom deserves a higher quality of life than I think she's going to get after all this is said and done. All I can hope for is to go home this weekend and be pleasantly suprised.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Snowing all Day - blech

It's ucky outside and I'm tired of winter. Spring is overdue - and figuring it's Iowa, we'll just skip right into summer. I'm bummed.

Taking five

I've got a bit of a mess here at work - so I'm going to take a minute and share a cute (NOT) 3-yr old story.

"a" decided that the cartoon character on the tv show he was wanting would greatly benefit from a sip of Gatorade the other day - after all, the guy did say he wanted a drink, and "a" was standing there right in front of the tv with a drink handy, and well, why can't I just hold the cup for him and tip it towards his lips - right???

I stopped him and explained that he couldn't give him a drink because - well the guy isn't real... not sure how well that went through, but I tried.

and I thought I had stopped him before he really did anything because the tv didn't seem ... well, wet.

At least, that's what I thought at the time.

About five to ten minutes later - the tv is on the wrong channel for cable, and the volume is at max... I tell "a" don't mess with those buttons (since the remote is currently hiding somewhere), fix it for him and try to go back to work (this was last week when we were taking turns being sick and I was trying to work from home. "a" in the meantime is complaining "hurts my ears" - my brilliant response - well, if it hurts quit doing it!

This repeats three or four times in the next couple of minutes - and "a" being a little more aware of what is really going on, gives up and leaves the living room... where I now become aware that he wasn't touching anything and the tv is doing all of by itself.

I finally figure out that just maybe, the tv did get a drink... and maybe, it might be too late to keep it from getting the circuit board wet. At this point, none of the buttons are working quite right... the down volume button was bringing up the menu, the menu button wasn't letting me cycle through the menu so I could exit, the up volume button was pretty much "stuck on", the down channel wasn't working, the up channel button was working occasionally all by itself... so I hit the power button to turn the tv off... thinking that I'd let it dry out and see what happens from there... and the tv did turn off, but then it also turned right back on... this happens about ten times before I finally convince myself that it wasn't going to do what I wanted - so I unplugged it.

I left it over the weekend - on Sunday evening, we come back - I plug it in (and got shocked). All the buttons are pretty much the same, except that the channel and volume are no longer changing themselves... and it's still not letting me turn it off at the panel... and I'm afraid to unplug it now for fear of another not so pleasant shock, so I've just left it on for two days - LOL... I know - not going to work long-term.

Good news? I've got enough stashed away that I can go shopping for a flat-screen... LOL

Monday, April 09, 2007


I rarely check my horoscope these days - but am on one of those calls that go on forever - and there's nothing really for me to be involved in...

Hello Penny,Here's your Tarot Reading for APRIL 09, 2007.

Today, your love life is under the sign of friendship and tenderness, Penny. Your relationships are under the protection of Temperance and the Empress, which means they will be comfortable and rewarding. If you're single, events surrounding a platonic relationship could lead to great happiness. If you have a partner, you'll be feeling very well disposed toward your significant other and ready to follow them to the ends of the earth. All this may lead to a new outlook on life! Certain people are trying to stir up trouble in your professional environment, and yet you're managing to preserve an Olympian calm. You're not exactly the rebellious type! The Tower and Temperance indicate that the world could collapse around your ears, and you'd still know how to adapt to the change and rebuild on the ruins. You're a shining example to others!

hmm? So the world could callapse and I'd still know how to adapt and rebuild? Guess that's good considering it feels like the world is in mid-collapse.

Brain dump - I'm sure it'll be long

OK - first things first. I've got "a" into head start today for his first day. I had him all ready, although we were running late - got him into the car - and then he threw up on the way to school. BUT, I'm thinking since he'd been fine since Thursday that this had more to do with the fact that all he ate on Sunday was candy and junk food than with him actually being sick. I did a u-turn to head home since you're not supposed to take them to school if they've been ill, but then another u-turn as I figured I needed to give them the immunizations and physical from the doctors anyway - and being half-way there was a good enough reason to make the trip. But then when we got to school - "a" got really excited about seeing the busses and "his school" which he remembered from his tour several weeks ago. So, I cleaned him up as best as possible - and took him in anyway. He cried when it was time to join the kids and sing songs - but that's a favorite activity of his - so I think he was just stressing out because he doesn't know them and it's going to take a little bit for him to figure things out and start enjoying himself. He can be so head strong though - as he "wanted to play with toys" - but, I'm really glad he's going to get some structure as he does really well lately with wanting to learn his numbers, letters, and counting.

Work is awesome and all good - they are so good about giving me time to deal with all the sh*t in my life. I never made it into the office at all last week even though I worked most every day - but between me and "a" being ill so much - it was really rough.

Good news is that my annual payraise took effect March 1st; and with my transfer taking affect April 1st - they managed to get me a small raise for the transfer - over and above what I was expecting. Since I've only worked with the company since August - I was pretty pleased with a 4.5% raise to start with, but add an additional 3% off of the new base - and I'm pleased as punch.

To celebrate, on Friday night as I pulled into Iowa City to go see mom, I drove by an inn that I've stayed at years ago - it's ok - but not awesome - but they had a special on their whirlpool suite. So - "a" and I stayed in something that was probably normally used as a bit of a couple get-a-way... not that we didn't appreciate it though.

The room opens up pretty much like a normal hotel room - with the bathroom next to the door; then a living room area past that - but then there were stairs in the living room leading up to an open loft with a king size four-poster bed with canapy and a heart-shaped whirlpool tub next to it. "a" swam like he was in a pool - and I got a chance to really relax and just veg out a bit. Initially "a" claimed the bed & tub for his own, but then it was ok if I wanted to share it... then when he got tired, he suggested that he wanted to sleep downstairs... so I folded out the sofabed and he slept down there all night.

Saturday we spent most of the day/evening at the hospital. "a" was pretty good although he made a real mess with cracker crumbs/spilled water, etc... and there really weren't any good paper towels available to clean up after him - so I ended up just leaving it. If my brother or sister were around (they both stopped up for a couple of visits) then he was a bit better and wanted to talk to them and play with his toys. But, when it was just the two of us, he got pretty whiny and clingy - ugh. But, I did promise a trip out to the play ground - the hospital has a great one - and if it hadn't been so cold, we'd probably would have spent a lot more time out there. I did manage to "briskly walk" quite a bit and "a" and I took turns playing follow the leader... so it was good exercise for both of us. He wouldn't take a nap (go figure) so by evening he was practically out of control. Cindy & I went out to dinner at a chinese buffet - and there was only one other family in the whole restaurant - so I ended up just caving in and pretty much just letting him run. He wasn't in the car but for about five minutes before he completely conked out.

I'd picked up a couple of presents for him in Rochester for Easter Sunday - but hadn't picked up any candy - and had spaced grabbing his Easter basket. And with the trip - we cheated. So I picked up new basket, a basket of plastic eggs for hiding, and candy - and my sister waited with "a" in the car so I could grab this all on Sunday night. And being it was now 10:30 pm.... and it's an hour drive to her house/my brother's house/my step-dad's house... I caved and stopped at a cheap-o-hotel-o for the night. "a" didn't wake up from the car to the bed - so I managed to get all the treats out and arranged and the eggs all hidden.

And then I couldn't sleep all night.... stinkin' stress.

Sunday went better, "a" was much better behaved, plus he got to see "pa-pa" which he thinks is the best thing in the world. Only trouble hit as we were leaving - he wanted to go to "pa-pa's house" instead of home.

Mom - she was doing a lot better, then a lot worse, now a bit better than last week. Tuesday night she was reaching for everyone's hands, and trying to communicate about things - she'd nod yes or no at the appropriate times... but then she got septic... although they don't know where the infection came from - and her fever spiked really high - they did finally figure out exactly what kind of bacteria it was and get her on the right kind of antibiotics. To be completely honest, she might have had the infection for several years - and it only got bad recently due to being imuno-compromised - as she's had evidence of an infection for several years and they just couldn't seem to find it nor get it to respond to antibiotics - even at the Mayo clinic. So, if that's where this came from - it's a really good thing to have figured it out.

By Sunday night she finally was opening her eyes again - she did focus in on Dave when he leaned over her bed, but otherwise was just staring off into space at the wall. It didn't help they had the golf channel on her tv... lol! And then, when Steve mentioned something about her going to sleep - she shook her head no... but then fell asleep anyway just a couple of minutes later. But, she does seem at least to be back on the up-ward trend. She's got a long way to go to recovery though. She is finally at least breathing on her own - she's still hooked up to the ventilator - but it's more just as a safety thing now... if she stops breathing it'll automatically kick in. They're planning today to take it out as she's started to get some fluid in her lungs from the machine. Then they'll see how well she does on her own - worst case, they'll do a tracheotomy (sp?) where they can hook up a ventilator to it. Good news is that if she recovers well enough to try to communicate again - at least she'll have the option of trying to speak - which wasn't available to her last week.

Haven't really tried to contact or visit "A" - I'm just kind of giving myself the break of not forcing myself to deal with him. I just know that he'll be full of "requests" if I do see him - and I'm not really in the right mind-set to try to make jail any more comfortable for him. I do have to check into things this week to see if I can file a tax extension for him or if he needs to sign a form to do it... but other than that - he's due out about the 18th. I'm really, really hopeful that his girlfriend has found someone new by the time he gets out... I just know that he's just going to get burned over it otherwise.

Ah well - life continues - right?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"A"s court hearing

Apparantly "A" forgot to go to court for his court date. So he didn't get the suspended sentance he was hoping for. Instead he's serving 20 days in county jail.

I just hope he finally understands that he can't keep making stupid decisions now that he's an adult.

I'm also SINCERELY hopeful that this means that his girlfriend will lose interest. She's 15. He's 18. Her father doesn't approve of their relationship - and while I don't either - I'm not "forbidding" it so much as spending a great deal of time warning "A" of the dangers of continuing to see her. Her father has forbidden her from seeing "A" anymore - which just makes them even more determined to continue seeing each other.

Since I've explained the law to him and explained that if her father wants to he can make "A"s life miserable - I'm now stepping back. It's his life.

When he gets out - he's got two choices - he can continue to live his life his way in his apartment under his own finances without assistance... or he can move to Des Moines, start listening to me, get a job or enroll for school... chances are he'll chose the first... which is his right and pretty much expected.

My heart breaks a little bit when I think about it as I see him making so many mistakes and screwing things up. But, as a mom of an adult - I really can't fix it for him. So, I still sit back and watch him screw up some more. I should have probably driven him to court myself - but I was at mom's bedside at ICU... and it was truly his responsibility - not mine.

Not much to update on mom's condition

Mom still is in critical care. I've come home to get a bit of a break.

There's still a third anuerysm that hasn't burst yet - but since mom isn't very stable they are planning at this point not to seal it off for a couple of months at minimum.

She's had some seizures or spasms - doctors don't quite agree which. Spasms are most likely after a severe bleed. Apparantly the brain isn't used to direct contact with blood outside of the blood vessel and as a self-repair type of thing it spasms to close the veins - which cuts off blood supply. They're currently doing a very delicate balancing act with medicine and treatment - as the treatment for spasms is in direct conflict of treatment for an anuerysm that hasn't been sealed... she's been running a fever off and on - but is responding well to tylenol. They've been doing cultures but can't find the cause of the fevers.

She's been unconscious more than they would like. When she is awake she can make eye contact but she's not responding when they ask her to move certain ways - although she does seem able to move all four limbs when she choses to.

I'm going to go to work for a few days and give "a" and I a chance to get a bit of routine back in our lives as it seems that there's really not much reason to sit in the hospital. We only get to see mom about fifteen minutes every hour and a half - to two hours. And even then, she's not aware we're there.

I'll head back out later in the week and spend the last half of the week with her.