Monday, September 30, 2013

Doing Normal Things

This week end I did several normal things.  It felt good to go somewhere other than Kaiser. It also was very tiring. 

Since I was hospitalized my goal was to make it to the A Team event.  For newbies the A Team is a group of us who were neighbors and liked to cook and dine together.  We all became very close, at time as if we were family.  Because we no longer all live in the same city, getting together is hard to arrange.  We had the date and the menu.  Now I had to be well enough to go.

Saturday I started making my Chipotle Shrimp appetizer.  I don't remember it being that tiring to cook shrimp, and chop up herbs and veggies.  It took me forever to get it made.  And then I had to go rest.  The plan was to get there at 6:00, I would eat what I could, and drink water. Marty could eat all the wonderful food and drink some wine.   Then we would go home around 9:00.  I didn't  think I could last longer than that. 

We were meeting at one of the couples' loft in San Francisco.  This meant we would drive across the new span of the Bay Bridge for our first time.  This bridge is beautiful and with the low sides (which scare me more than a little) the views are spectacular.  I took pictures with my IPhone and with Marty's.  The pictures are a little blurry because we were moving around 45 MPH. 

It is late afternoon and I was shooting directly into that huge white light, the sun.  I had no idea if I was getting good or bad pictures, I was blinded by the sun.  This is just as we started onto the bridge.

Here you can see into the Marin Headlands and the Bay.  Stunning views.  And see what I mean by low sides?  I feel as if we will topple over.
The old bridge to the left.  It will take a couple of years for it to be torn down.  In front of you is the tower that holds all the suspension cables. 

Past the tower and headed for the tunnel on Yerba Buena. 

We go into the city and spend a lovely evening with our friends.  I had such a good time and we didn't leave at 9:00 as planned.  It was so normal to sit and talk and I loved it.
This is us (well you can't see me) having a great time.  Starting on the left and going counter clockwise: Nancy, Hank, Thom, Marty, and Lew.  I love the shadows on the floors.  And behind Thom is a window reflecting one of their wonderful pieces of Art.  Yes, their pictures are Art with a capital A. 
We laughed and there was a little crying maybe.  We do get emotional sometimes.  Fabulous time with the A Team.  We did not get home until after midnight.  Big normal night for me.
If you thought the bridge was pretty in the daytime, take a trip across at night with the funky lights.
Just look at this, gorgeous!
With the 18 wheeler you can see how huge the cables are.  I think this is my favorite night picture.
I got to  bed at 12:30 and was up at 6:30.  This time we are off to church and then to Kaiser for a blood draw. Marty took me to lunch (boy is it hard to order healthy in a sports' bar), and then home.  I was exhausted from all the fun of the Saturday and Sunday.  So a two hour nap was taken. 
Normal is very tiring, but normal helps me on the road to recovery.  Normal makes me really happy. Today's normal was not fun, but I felt very saintly for doing this normal.  I dusted our apartment. 
Then I sent Marty a text to tell him how wonderful I am.  He agrees with me.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things that happened this week

Monday was lab work day.  Marty was booked solid, so friend Pat took me for the blood draw.  We used my new handicap placard and parked at the door.  She then took me for lunch because she said I needed to get out and be normal.

On Wednesday the parents of a good friend sent Marty and me roses.  The note said it was to cheer us up.  And the roses did cheer us up.

They arrived just as I was throwing away the flowers my brother and his wife sent me two weeks ago.  Perfect timing.

Yesterday I felt pretty good.  Marty had meetings until early evening so I told him I would cook. This was my first attempt other than toast or a sandwich, at cooking in three weeks. 

This is healthy baked chicken breast with mixed vegetables and a medley of wild mushrooms.  There is just a little wild rice and the broth sans fat from the chicken, veggies, and mushrooms poured over it. 

Today not such a normal day.  I have been tired, and cranky.  Lucky for Marty he wasn't home.  All week my blood pressure has been in the safe range.  My pulse is still erratic, but not dangerously high. 

I am being good, eating healthy and walking every day.  I am up to walking 25 minutes a day. That is 22 minutes more than I could walk when I came home  That is not real fast, but steady.  I have to be able to walk strongly without tiring before I can go back to volunteering.  I also have to stay up longer than an hour at a time.  Baby steps.

Monday, September 23, 2013

And we have one more dumb thing

Today Friend Pat took me to the Alameda Kaiser for lab work.  It is an old building with lovely woodwork in the building and a split wooden front door with brass push plates.  There is an automatic door opener button.  I didn't notice the button and pushed the doors open and we walked in. 

A man rushed over and scolded us for not using the automatic opener.  I first thought he was worried for poor puny me.  No, he said, " Pushing the doors open is hard on them.  Use the automatic opener."  Really, either way the door opens.  Seems like the same amount of stress would happen.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Joe sends updates from the Marriage Factory

It finally happened.  You'd think, with me having married so many
couples, that it would've happened several or even many times, perhaps
as often as once a month.  But no - never before.  Not once. There
they were in the lobby - my first 2 couples of the day.  Both were
young, both were opposite-sex pairs - and both brides were wearing the
same dress.

To be clear, they weren't both stuffed into the same piece of cloth.
Rather, the design of their dresses was identical, from the cream
color and strapless bodice to the dark brown applique and asymmetrical
tulle knee-length hem.  The brides noticed this, and the clerks did,
too.  Luckily, everyone had a healthy sense of humor and good
priorities.  Both couples were just happy to be getting married, and
each wished the other good luck.  So much for the stereotype of catty

There were a lot of gowns this week, mostly white or off-white.  They
ranged from strapless and shiny to lacy and macrame-like.  Other
standouts include two grooms in gray suits, the first a beautiful
steel gray with a purple and white pocket square and glossy patent
leather loafers; the second a matte gray with a lavender vest and tie.
I went through a dozen couples before my first pair in street

The most alarming part of a ceremony happened when a keening wail
started just as I was about to pronounce a couple legally wed.  I
thought it odd that someone would be playing a theremin in a
government building, but one of the couple had set an alarm to remind
her to add money to the parking meter.  After the pronouncement, I
shooed her away to feed the meter while her new spouse collected the
license.  They'd already paid the state once that day.  No need to do
it again.

The most unusual wedding was one in which the couple chanted several
mantras before and after the ceremony to welcome their guests and
prepare themselves for the ceremony.  It was lovely, and would have
been even more so had I not been running late for my bus back to work.
Ah, worldly concerns!

Joe Mallon

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dumb thing as promised

Yesterday I said I hoped to post something besides a medical report.  I also said maybe a neighbor would do something dumb.  Well, it wasn't a neighbor, but we do have a dumb action.

Marty put a sign across the doorbell at the front door that told people not to ring the bell and to come up the outside back stairs to the back door.  That way they walk the stairs and I won't need to go up and down the stairs.

This morning someone was beating on the door.  We ignored it and it repeated.  So Marty went downstairs and a man was standing there and starts in on his evangelical spiel.  Marty stopped him, pointed to the sign and asked,  "Didn't you see the sign?"  The man said he had, but didn't think it was for him, just for the mailman.  Marty shut the door in his face.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I don't do anything the easy way.

Monday Marty took me to a close by Kaiser to have lab work.  This was the test to see if my blood was too thick, too thin, or just right.  The test came back in the just right range.  They need two tests before setting up the next 4 days levels of Warfarin.  I was to be tested on Wednesday when I had a follow up doctor's visit.

Tuesday night BP was in a low safe range.  I was excited.  Maybe I could start driving, go places other than Kaiser, start living a normal life.  Wednesday at the doctor's office, high BP, and a-fib acting up again.   All settled down  and I was to do lab work and then go home. 

Last night I took my BP and it was so very high.  We called the advice nurse and he conferred with a doctor.  I had taken my meds to start the drop hopefully.  They asked us to take BP again, still climbing.  They sent us to Oakland ED around 11:00. 

Oakland Kaiser care is close to Walnut Creek.  Lots of calming, meds given, doctors in and out.  Nurses constantly checking and calming me.  At 2:30 they said all looked good, a-fib gone, and discharged me. 

We slept in this morning, we both were worn out.  I took my BP at 10:00 and all was normal.  I took meds, Marty put the new patch on me, it is to give a more consistent dosage of BP med. 

I really wish this was a funny post, a happy post, a anything but medical post.  But this is my life right now.   Maybe my neighbors will do something dumb and I can write about that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part 3 from Joe

Why I Marry

Working at the Hall of Records lets me evangelize and proselytize something I believe in firmly - marriage.

As I've mentioned, I am married, and happily so.  Marrying my wife has been the smartest decision I've ever made, and I've made some awfully good decisions.  Marriage has proved a stabilizing influence on both our lives, and enabled us to weather some rather bad storms.  I'm sure Janet would agree that having someone with you who's promised to hang around through thick and thin, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, makes getting through the rough times a little easier.

I am a satisfied customer not just of marriage, but also of the Hall of Records.  I marry people in the very room in which I got married, a twist I hadn't expected.  The Hall staff are kind people whom I consider friends, and they do their very best to help the soon-to-be-newlyweds.  The routine provides a nice grounding and a good end to each work week.

Most couples are at least a little happy they're getting married.  Some are so overjoyed that tears and laughter spontaneously erupt - occasionally simultaneously.  When you can spend a few hours a week helping people feel that good, and you're not breaking the law to do it, why wouldn't you?

Until I am healthy enough to volunteer again, Joe has promised to send more posts.  Big hugs to friend Joe.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Part 2 from Joe

How It Started

My wife is in Janet's book club.  Their meetings are grouped in sessions, and each session ends with a potluck supper.  I show up for the potluck because Janet usually makes something delicious involving meat.

During the potluck right after the state of California first legalized same-sex marriage, Janet bemoaned the shortage of marriage commissioners to handle the tidal wave of couples newly free to marry, and asked if anyone in the club wanted to join her at the Hall of Records.

I did some acting in college, so I have no problem standing in front of people and talking.  My wife and I had been married almost 8 years at that point, and things were (and still are) working out well, so I was (and still am) a big fan of marriage.  I had (and still have) gay friends, and the thought of them being denied a basic right was ridiculous.  Those seemed like good enough reasons to volunteer.

Anyone who's read this blog probably knows what happened next.  All the new folks and the pros gathered, oaths were sworn, vows were hastily copied and distributed.  The terror of ruining someone's perfect day gradually gave way to the contagious joy radiating from enfranchised people.  I got better at gathering groups onto elevators.  I massaged here and poked there and finally constructed the ceremony that said what I wanted to say about marriage: its obligations and its rewards.  I set to joining folks in matrimony.

Once the initial surge calmed down, a lot of the volunteers drifted away.  I liked the routine and the people, both staff and couples, and my boss was kind enough to bend my work schedule to keep Friday mornings free, so I stayed.  That was more than 5 years ago.

Joe, ready for the next couple.

Next post, Why Joe Marries Couples

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Joe our great guest blogger is back!

Let The Day Begin

The alarm rings at 7:30 AM.  I do not want to get up.  The bed is comfortable and the dog is snoring ever so slightly.

I turn on the bathroom heater and start the shower. 20 minutes later, I am clean and clean-shaven, wearing gray slacks and a button-up shirt.  I head downstairs to check email, bring in the local paper, and, if it works with the shirt, grab my bow tie. The dog is usually smart enough to stay in bed.

By 8:15, I am walking to the bus stop, where I buy the Chronicle.  If my timing is right, I catch a bus quickly.  If not, I may be late.  If I'm late, someone else will do my job.

The walk from the bus is about 10 minutes.  If I'm early enough, I pick up breakfast - a toasted cheese bagel with butter and orange juice - from the deli around the corner.  If not, I'll grab it later, if things slow down.

I walk through the door, greet the clerks, buzz into the back room, and it begins: 4 hours of joining couples in wedded bliss at the Hall of Records in Oakland.  I've been marrying couples every Friday morning since June 2008 - more than 2000 pairs.  Some Fridays are boring - 3 or 4 couples, with nary an interesting tidbit.  Other Fridays are non-stop - 15 couples, and every one's got a story.

How did I get started?  Why have I kept going?

You will have to come back tomorrow to read the next part of Joe's post.  I told you I have no endings.   

Saturday, September 14, 2013

And the drama continued

Last Saturday I posted I was in the hospital and hoping to go home soon.  A lot has gone down since that.  First I will be OK.  A-fib is a lifetime condition and it takes a lot of people  to get the magic formula for meds.

Monday a nursing assistant was walking me.  I had to be able to walk with out tiring or shortness of breath before  being discharged.  He knew I was in trouble before I did.  I was really having trouble breathing.  Shortness of breath, where did that come from?  After an x-ray to check for pneumonia and a cat scan to see all other  possibilities, I had clots in  my lungs. A Doppler scan (I want to make a bad joke about storms etc. but will control myself) was done to check clots in my legs, none.  Then another cat scan of my brain (yes I have one) for bleeders from the meds.  Brain OK.

I was already on a blood thinner,  and then put on another one. This one is a shot into the stomach.  I couldn't go home until I could give myself the shots.  I put on  my big girl panties and learned how quickly.   Every night I thought I was going home the next day.  My heart had converted and I had a normal rhythm.

Every night something new cropped up.  Finally late Thursday afternoon I was discharged. We got home at 6:00.  I took my blood pressure before meds and it was sky high.  We called 911 and I rode in the ambulance to the nearest Kaiser. You have not lived until someone tries to start an IV on a bumpy road.  That one is off my bucket list.

I was not  taken to my wonderful Walnut Creek Kaiser, if was too far. I went to Kaiser Hayward. It is terrible.  I found out why everyone says, do not go to Hayward.  They treated me awfully, and implied I was wasting their precious time.  They sent me home.

The next morning my blood pressure was even higher.  I called the advice nurse, she conferred with a doctor.  He said I needed to come to the Walnut Creek ED.  And that is was safe for Marty to drive me, no ambulance needed.  I stayed several hours.  They checked everything out, got me stable again, and said it was safe to go home.

Last night BP was high but not as scary high.  I just now took my BP and it is down, not enough, but not ER high levels! 

I really hope all the drama is over now and I can just get on with my new life style.  Thanks for all the love and prayers sent over the last week and a half. 

Joe has sent me several posts about his weddings.  Until I am able to do marriages he said he has it covered.  Thanks Joe.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

News from The Marriage Factory

As promised our guest blogger Joe is back.

It's been a long time since I've written.  A lot has happened.  I'll hit the highlights.

The week after same-sex marriage was legalized (or de-de-legalized), the marriage factory was empty.  I did maybe 8 ceremonies.  The next week, I did 30 in 4 1/2 hours.  Le deluge, indeed.  The couples were all grateful, and almost all sweet.  Standouts include the men who had matching bow ties.  I was wearing one as well, purchased for the occasion by my wife from Jessie Tyler Ferguson's marriage-equality-supporting company,

After the initial rush (20 ceremonies the next week, 18 the week after that), things calmed down, as I knew they would.  The average is 12-15 ceremonies, with the volume picking up toward midday.  The summer has been busier, so I wasn't surprised to read that Miss Janet kept busy when she filled in for me.

Last week's couples were almost all dressed for the occasion, from those with one witness to a crew of 20 or more.  It wasn't until the end of my shift that I got a t-shirt & jeans couple.  Trumping all comers were a group from an African country.  Each woman in the crowd wore a different color.  They posed for pictures in the lobby, and it looked like a rainbow - so beautiful!  I also had two couples with English grooms.  That accent!  No wonder their spouses fell for them.

This week, there was an early wedding with a problem that pops up every once in a while: the member of the couple who does not speak English.  No worries for me if his/her language is Spanish - I do Spanish ceremonies every week.  This time, he spoke French.  My wife's French is good, but mine is non-existent.  As usually happens in these cases, there was a witness who was translating most of what is going on.  That person cannot translate the vows, however.  The groom must agree to the marriage without prompting.  The translator is only trying to help, but unfortunately, we must be rude and ask her to stop talking.  Luckily in this case, the groom understood enough to tell me that he wanted to marry his bride, and everything else went off without a hitch.  I used Google Translate to learn how to ask the necessary question: Voulez vous epouser BRIDE'S NAME?  Now I am prepared - unless the couple speaks German.  Then I'm out of luck.

Joe Mallon

Saturday, September 7, 2013

In a heartbeat

Last post, life was slow, nothing happening.  Well that has all changed in a heart beat, pun intended.  I was in my Kaiser Doctor's office for a check up to refill a cough medication. He took my pulse and all hell broke loose.  My heart was pounding in an irregular pattern, yet I couldn't feel the pounding.  He ordered the EKG cart to the room.  The EKG confirmed what he felt with my pulse.  It was atrial fibrillation.  In under 5 minutes I was in an ER room being worked on.

I was there for 4 hours and then I was admitted to the cardiac monitoring unit. That was Thursday today is Saturday and I am still in the hospital.  They are still trying to get the beat and rate back to normal.  Just to keep the drama going, my blood pressure is bonkers too.  A gazillion tests have been done, buckets of blood drawn, and every medicine you can think, pill and drip, and still I'm not stable.

There is no pain, just tired.  Kaiser has taken great care of me.  The medical staff is excellent in physical and emotional care for the patient.  They also have made sure Marty has eaten.  One nurse found out he hadn't had supper last night and she got him a tray of food. 

Because of the above I will not be marrying couples or working with first graders this coming week.  Joe our guest blogger has sent me a couple of blogs and I will post one tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Slow Week

This has been and will be a slow week for  me.  Monday was Labor Day so the Marriage Factory was not open.  School has started but I don't start volunteering until next week.  So what have I been doing?

I have been doing normal things: cooking, reading, ironing, reading, eating while reading, reading, wasting time on the Internet, reading.  Do you see a pattern here?

One absolutely wonderful thing happened this week.  Monday our great great niece was born. 

Three generations of nieces: niece, great niece, great great niece

The star