Friday, July 16, 2010

Preparing for Hospital stays, Geek Style, Part 2

PikachuImage via Wikipedia

One of the things Geeky Moms do is make lots of lists. This is because we have many things on our minds, such as making sure the kids get to school on time, remembering to feed the cat and dog, cruising the forums to make sure there are no spambots there, looking around to see where we put the car keys, checking the severe weather threat on the Storm Prediction Center, reading email, making sure the hamburger has been pulled out of the freezer for dinner, Skyping/IMing, Twittering, gaming, and making sure we've drawn a Magikarp on our daughter's lunch bag that day.

I'd draw a Pikachu, but I'm artistically impaired.

In addition to making a list of things to do prior to surgery in the supreme effort to put off serious housecleaning to the very last minute, it is Important to have a list of 'Things To Bring To The Hospital'. If I don't have this list, I will undoubtedly discover I'm missing something at 2 am the night after my surgery. My Loving Hubby sleeps like a log and won't wake up for a call at 2:02 am, nor will he be inclined to crawl out of bed and drive an hour to the hospital to bring it to me at O-God-Hundred.

In addition to things like a Real Bathrobe (to cover my amble tushy while I'm stuck wearing the half-toga), toiletries, underwear without holes, regular medications, and my own toothpaste, I have determined that I also need the following Geek items.

1. My cell phone. Yes, yes, they tell you to turn them off in the hospital, with the implication that leaving it on could fry the brainwaves of patients in ICU or something.

The real reason they tell you to turn it off:



Hospital personnel have to draw the line somewhere, for heaven's sake. If you think I'm kidding, I'm not. I actually had a patient take a call while I was doing their eye exam and talk to the other person about pizza toppings. It's people like that who ruin it for us Geeks who know how not to talk at the top of our lungs in the hospital hallway at 2 am about mindless crap like what color we're going to paint our fingernails tomorrow. Anyway, I don't plan on talking much, I just want internet access in case Skylight does not play nice with Lucasforums, Lotus Fleet, and the Storm Prediction Center. It's Important for me to Know if a tornado is coming my way, after all. That fact that I would reach at most the cruising speed on my crutches/Jar-Jar Binks decorated walker of a paraplegic snail in order to escape the tornado does not daunt me in the least.

2. Cell phone recharger. There's no way the phone will stay on for 3 days, not if I'm using the shoutbox on Lotus Fleet to harass Trusty Friends N'Eligahn, Mishy, Calderwood, Kheren, Jureth, Battle Lion, evshell18, jovani, Caltern, and assorted other Lotus Fleet Unique Personalities. The admirals are aware that I'll be in the hospital and on Good Drugs. This gives me the excuse to say something that will make at least a couple of them give an eye-popping "OMG!!!!!!!" and yet be truly entertaining to the rest of forumites. Of course, they still reserve the right to ban me at any time, which would be a first for me. I may rethink this strategy at some point.

3. DSiXL and Pokemon games. I'm not kidding when I said Pokemon is gaming crack. Yes, I know the hospital website says 'don't bring video games'. I'm going to cheerfully ignore that. Pokemon withdrawal would make me bat-crazy.

4. DSiXL recharger, because I plan on playing a LOT of Pokemon. Yes, I know Skylight has games, but if they have anything besides Solitaire and Chess, I'll be stunned.

5. Individual packets of Cameron's decaf chocolate caramel brownie coffee, Splenda, and individual packets of fat-free hazelnut creamer. I cannot go without my coffee, and while hospitals are good at medical care, they are not Starbucks.

6. A coffee maker and filters. Hey, the hospital website doesn't say I can't bring my little 4-cup coffee maker.

7. Bags of tea in case the hospital staff tells Loving Hubby to take the coffee maker home because it's not Officially Sanctioned By The Bioengineering Staff.

8. Several books in case they make Loving Hubby take my DSi home.

9. Tasmanian Devil coffee mug.

If I can have my coffee, my internet, a little chocolate, a little pizza, and some books, I can survive anything.

Addendum: You know, I think Zenmata is really a cool kind of thing, until I see their 'suggested articles', including these, RIGHT BEFORE MY SURGERY. Geez, now I have to worry about the possibility of some crazed bovine wandering into my hospital room.


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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Preparing for Hospital stays, Geek Style, Part 1

It's been a crazy few months for us, and even Geeky Moms have their limits in what they can handle without needing to escape to game, chat with Trusty Friends and fellow church members via Skype/Facebook, podcast about E3, rock out to Skillet's new album 'Awake', or role-play, which is what I've done. I've played Dragon Age, Star Trek Online, Pokemon (don't laugh until you've tried it. It's gaming crack, that's all I can say), and D&D online via Skype. I also role-played in some of the RP stories on Lotus Fleet, did simulcasts with Trusty Friends Lynk and leXX during E3 presentations, and chatted. I've learned more about Andorian birthing than I ever thought was possible given that it's an imaginary alien species from a 44 year old TV show. Still, I had a good time role-playing how my ship's doctor helped save a pregnant zhen, and the pleasant diversions are very welcome. This may sound totally corny and tremendously Geeky, but some of my online friends are as close, if not closer, than some of my local friends. You all have helped me in many ways with prayers, good wishes, and warm thoughts, and I treasure you all.

My sister's cancer diagnosis has been rough on the entire family, complete with all the attendant emotional ups and downs that come with such a devastating diagnosis. The good news is that the chemotherapy has been tremendously effective, and her prognosis has improved from 'about 5 years' to 'you'll get to see your children grow up'.

We're still dealing with the roller coaster of feelings, and the family dynamic challenges. Trust me, when you get a cancer diagnosis in the family, the dynamics NEVER improve. The best you can do is keep them from going down the crapper completely and creating the family equivalent of Mt. Vesuvius, and/or something that belongs on the latest hot TV reality show.

In more cancer news, we learned a few weeks back that my sister-in-law, Glenda, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They caught hers very early, and she did fantastic in her surgery last week. She had no lymph node involvement on initial pathology results, and we're waiting to hear for the final results, but all indications are that she'll have a complete cure. She says she's very glad to be rid of the cancer.

We have also had the challenge of dealing with my daughter's ADHD diagnosis and different medication changes associated with that. This is one of the Parental Challenges of the Century. At one point, we were trying a dose of medicine that was way too low and just made the symptoms worse, and by worse I mean, "if the pediatrician doesn't fix it Right Now, the house will explode." I told the pediatrician "I don't know who you're going to have to peel off the ceiling first--her or me." I briefly thought banshee training would be of great benefit to her as a career choice. I spoke with the Banshee College of Shrieks, and after they listened to her one time, they determined she'd test out of their PhD program and asked if in fact they could invite her for a guest lectureship. The medium dose of the medication seem to be working better, however, so I think we'll hold off on any career scream plans for the time being. Just to add to the fun, we also learned yesterday that she's still allergic to dairy after all, and also allergic to soy. Ever try to find margarine or shortening with no dairy or soy in a conventional store? Good luck with that. Soy and dairy are 2 of the 8 top food allergies. You think some major margarine manufacturer execs somewhere would say to themselves, "Hmm, maybe we should make something without dairy and soy and sell it in major groceries. We could make a ton of money from the people who have these allergy issues." Nope. It hasn't happened, though I have been assured by Earth Balance that I can find their soy and dairy-free spread at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Market if I am willing to drive 35 miles.

Some good news--we found an absolutely delightful dog at Safe Harbor Humane Society, who we have named Sparky. We missed Lucas, we all needed a new dog in our lives, and the shelter had several available. His previous owner had to relinquish him because he lost his job and had to move to an apartment that wouldn't allow dogs. I don't know who the previous owner is, and I'm sure he was heartbroken at giving up such a wonderful dog after having him as part of the family for 5 years. I'm proud of him for doing the right thing and not just throwing the dog out on the street for animal control to find. I just wish I could let him know how happy his dog is with us and how we're working hard to take good care of him and love him.


Sparky is mostly a black Labrador retriever, possibly with a bit of pit bull or boxer in him, since he's got a massive head, very strong jaw, and quite stocky body. He's collapsed 3 tennis balls since we got him, so we finally got smart and bought Kong toys, which are much tougher. He takes tremendous joy in playing 'fetch', and we now take tremendous joy in playing 'throw'. He has a very sweet temperament and adores tummy rubs. He did well in his introduction to our cat, Joey. The two now sniff each other often. I suspect they'll be doing some playing in a few more weeks as they learn each others' boundaries.

In addition to all that, I've been dealing with my long-term knee problem, and I'm actually having a total knee replacement for it next week, which brings me to the actual point of this post--how Geeks prepare for a hospital stay. As a Geeky Mom, this involves multiple things, not the least of which is blogging about it.

First, you'll be happy to know that not only does my surgeon do nothing but knee and hip replacements, he also has a website, and he's actually tweeted a surgery. I suspect that actually someone typed for him while he did the surgery. I'll ask him next week for sure. Inquiring minds want to know.

I have a list of things needing to get done around the house prior to surgery because I'll be maneuvering on a walker and/or crutches for several weeks after I get home from the 3 day incarceration in the hospital. I'm hoping for crutches, because walkers really make me feel old beyond my permanent 29-ness. In fact, I informed the ortho that I would use it if he forced me, but I would feel the urge to decorate it with visually obnoxious items, such as pinwheels, a loud shiny horn, and neon reflective Jar-Jar Binks stickers.

Anyway, the list of tasks includes:

1. Asking my hubby for the 9th time to please put the back seat back in the van. I have been asking this since, oh, last March. I'm tired of chasing cans of kidney beans around the back of the van when they roll out of the bags. Here's a hint for those of you guys who hate being nagged: if you do something you say you'll do the first time, we'll never have to ask you again to do it. Just a pro-tip for husbands, there.
2. Not killing my daughter when she does her best banshee impression about having to clean up the mess in her room.
3. Playing STO and doing RP in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.
4. Creating playlists in iTunes in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.
5. Teaching Trusty Friend jovani how to use Audacity in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.
6. Making a long list of things I need to bring to the hospital in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.
7. Obtaining a raised toilet seat per doctor's orders. This adds to my feeling of youth about as much as a walker does.
8. Getting the dog neutered and my daughter tested for allergies the week before surgery, because I don't have enough stress in life, and I'm making the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.
9. Mourning over the fact that Trusty Friend N'Eligahn is not going to be hosting a D&D session this Saturday, thus preventing me from making the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute. Never fear, however, I'll find something to do instead, perhaps play more STO, write another RP post, blog, or jam with the family on Lego Rock Band. I'm very creative in avoiding house-cleaning.
10. Preparing menus and doing a mass cooking marathon in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

One of the things I did today was check out the hospital website to get information on my stay there. I found out important things like "as a patient you'll be given a gown to wear" (more like a half a toga), "no cell phones" (yeah, right), and "we have 24 hour security" (so the psych patients stay in psych). Since I'm going to be an inmate for 3 days, and living without internet is not my idea of A Good Time, I decided that one of the first things I, as a dedicated Geeky Mom, should do is check out internet availability. To my great delight, I found out the hospital has this cool thing called Skylight Access Interactive Patient system. It comes complete with a "wide array of services" such as cable tv, INTERNET, health videos (that'll put me to sleep for sure), 'healing music' (read, New Age interpretations of bad elevator music versions of Simon & Garfunkel songs), INTERNET, the ability to order my meals from the kitchen and extra toilet paper from housekeeping, and, INTERNET. The internet includes a wireless keyboard. My guess on why the keyboard is wireless is Skylight's lawyers feared that those of us under the influence of Good Drugs might do something with the cord that would involve lawsuits against them. This is in spite of the fact that someone like me will be a. attached to a machine that will move my knee around pretty much all the time, and b. we're all attached to IVs and assorted other medical things with odd, unintelligible Greco-Roman names.

Now, you may ask why on earth I'd want to be on the internet hours after having chunks carved out of my thigh and leg bones and pieces of titanium hammered into them for my new 'bionic robo-knee', as Trusty Friend Dath Max calls it. I mean, we're talking power-tool heaven for Mr. Fix-It types here. The answer: Because that's what Geeky Moms do. I may only be online for about 2 minutes the first night, provided I'm not drugged into oblivion by pain killers, and for limited times the next day or two after that, but by God, I actually have the opportunity, and that's the important thing.