Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Friday Morning at the Local ATM

Friday morning I was second in line at one of the two ATM machines in town. We rarely have a line, but it was the first day of the month, and many people’s checks are deposited then. In front of me a tiny little woman with her hair on top of her head like Pebbles Flintstone was putting her ATM card in the machine over and over. Her car was too far over from the machine, so she had gotten out in order to reach the slot better. Behind me, a guy sat in one of those huge trucks with huge wheels, not an eighteen-wheeler, just an unnecessarily large pick-up. I knew that any minute he was going to get mad because of the wait. Guys in trucks like that get angry quickly.

The lady at the ATM looked at me and waved, mouthing the words, “Help me.” I thought for a second. Well, I know you’re not supposed to get out and walk around at an ATM. The guy behind me might be a thief or a kidnapper or something like that. (On the other hand, big old overweight ladies hardly ever get kidnapped—ever notice that? It’s just too hard to drag them away.) Oh, well. The Pebbles lady would NEVER get finished if someone didn’t help her. I got out and went up to the ATM. Her problem was that she wanted to get out $600, more money than the machine would give at one time. (This is a safety feature built in because of guys like that one in the humongous truck behind me, no doubt.) Putting her card in over and over was not a good thing. I figured that at any moment the machine would rebel and refuse to give the rest of us any money at all; it IS out of order a great deal. The directions for the ATM were right at her eye level, but I am a fairly patient woman. Lots of people, including the students in my former high school English classes, never read anything, much less the directions to what they are working on. I moseyed back to my van and got in, relieved that no one had mugged me on this lovely morning in a small town in Georgia. I thought about how people rarely get mugged here, even though some people do get annoyed. About that time the guy in the truck ran out of patience and ROARED by Miss Pebbles and me, yelling obscenities as he went by. Yep, could have seen that one coming…

Well, she finally got her money. Miss Pebbles waved “Thank you” to me, got in the car, and headed down the road. The guy in the big truck probably got stopped by the local deputies for roaring down historic Main Street unless he is “kin” to all the locals. I pulled on up to the ATM and took my chances on its recently abused computer brain. Life goes on…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Falling Walnuts

I know that the season has changed to autumn not when the weather people on television tell me so (after all, they are so seldom right), but when my daughters get out their hoodies and the walnuts begin to drop from the trees in our yard. This morning I looked up while I was walking one of the dogs. There was a cluster of eight walnuts directly over us. Now, these things are falling like bombs from the sky. Considering that neither my dog nor I am too strong in the brain department, I figured I’d better move it on out from under that particular branch a little faster than I usually move. I really don’t think I could explain to the neurologist or the veterinarian that we were hit on the head by a cluster of falling walnuts…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is the Library Closing?

The other day I received an email stating that as of the following Friday, our little county library would be closed. Someone had commented that the closing of the library was really sad. Another person commented that anyone needing library services could visit the library of the next county.

“What!” I thought. The closing of a small, rural library might not seem like much of a catastrophe to many people, but chaos was breaking loose in my little household. We are the people who not only have five books being currently read, but at least two overdue, one on hold from somewhere from another library in the state, two checked out and loaned to relatives two counties away, plus 40 cents currently owed in overdue fees. Never mind that I know perfectly well how to use my online library account, which shows me the titles of all my books checked out and how many renewals are allowed on each one. It also shows me the 40 cents I owe. Never mind the email I receive every two weeks that tells me I have books due soon. I want the people at the library to tell me IN PERSON.

I KNOW them. I have been talking to them about books for years, and I even taught one of them English literature before I retired. They know I’ll bring my books back in fairly good condition, and that I won’t move away or run off with the books. They know that I’ll admire the art and read the magazines while my daughter browses, if I don’t need anything myself. They know I think it would be a sacrilege to talk on a cell phone while in a library, but I also don’t mind the noise little kids make when their mama brings them into the library. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that I was bringing my own little girls into the library myself. I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE LIBRARY IN THE NEXT COUNTY.

Luckily, there was a misunderstanding. The library isn’t closing “As of Friday,” but just closing on Fridays from now on, due to budget cuts. Just one day a week, whew. Still, that’s bad enough.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Morning and My Husband's Gone Fishing...

I keep waking up at unreasonably early hours on the weekends lately. It's not a school day for my eighth-grade daughter, so why am I up? I make coffee, shuffle around, nearly fall over dog toys, worry about my lack of sleep. Think about my daughter's birthday, the same day as mine, next month. What present will I get her? She was my best birthday present in 1996...Smile as I think about the young man at the hospital desk (he had his feet propped up, and obviously wasn't expecting a very large, pregnant, 40-year-old lady to arrive and say, "The doctor sent me over, my blood pressure is high, and I'm about to have a baby." He moved his feet down quickly...) How did the years pass so quickly?

After the coffee is finished, I get a cup and listen to the noises of the house...
air conditioner
a small cough
a dog shuffling the covers into my place in the bed
the refrigerator
a bird outside
our old dog outside wheezing

Well, I don't really have too many worries, I guess. I'll take a nap later. My daughter will be 14 soon, and she's a good kid. It's peaceful here. My coffee's good, and my husband's gone fishing...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Should I Name My Brain Sacs?

This is what happened to me about three weeks ago. I was hanging around, procrastinating about picking up the dishes from supper because I was really tired. I had slept only three hours the night before, and not at all the night before that. Anyway, as I picked up a plate, my right arm began to jerk as if I were throwing a Frisbee. The plate flew right out of my hand. My arm was jerking all by itself, out of my control. I told my husband that I was jerking. He told me to sit down, and so I did. That is the last thing I remember. My husband said that I tried to stand back up, and then I grabbed my head and screamed. Then I fell to the floor. My daughter came in from her room; she said that my eyes were rolled back in my head. My husband told her to call 911, so she did. I asked some questions later, like what were the dogs doing when this happened? What did the scream sound like? Bonnie said I sounded like the way people scream when they step on something. Wayne said he had to put Melvin in the bathroom, that both of the dogs were trying to see what was wrong.

The next thing I remember is that I woke up in the ambulance. One of my former students was in there. He said, “Do you remember me?” They always say that! I couldn’t think of his name, though. I said, “You had a brother…”(For 29 years I taught with a gentleman who taught social studies. He and I used to joke that we were afraid we’d wake up in the ambulance and find a former student who failed our class. I think this student passed, but I can’t swear to it.) I don’t remember much else about the ride. It’s so weird not to remember time that passed by.

Eventually, I became aware of being in the emergency room, and finally, that my family was there. Much later, my husband told me that a nurse asked him if I were his mother. That did not please me, needless to say. Then we began waiting and waiting. We got there about 11:00 P.M., and finally I was admitted at around 4 A.M. We finally got into a room at 6:00 A.M.

Wayne took the girls home so they could get some sleep. He came back later on with my younger daughter. Luckily, I made it into a room just in time for some bad hospital food (oatmeal without salt and then because my arm was still jerking a little, I spilled the sugar). Eggs without salt, yuck. I had a number of tests that day, including an EEG and an MRI. During the brain scan, a very nice girl who looked like the blonde on 90210 (Now, what was her name? Tori Spelling) was putting dabs of cold glop on my scalp so that the little sensors could be placed on it. I said, “Don’t I have a big head?” She said, “Well, no bigger than usual…” I said, “Well, I guess you’d be in a position to know.” After all, she apparently does brain scans for a living, right? I finally told her that it is kind of a family joke about my huge skull that few hats will fit. She didn’t know if I were being humorous or not, poor girl. After getting my head set up for the test, she went into the next room and told me through the window to be very still and quiet, lying there in the dark, so naturally I went to sleep. I woke up in a few minutes to hear “Tori Spelling” talking to another girl about what she was seeing on the screen about my brain. This is not a wise method, to talk about the patients within their hearing. One of them said, “Look what I’m seeing!” The other one said, “It’s just on one side!” The one who put the glop on my head said, “That’s epilepsy!” After some further discussion, they decided to call a particular doctor down there, who turned out to be a neurologist. The neurologist was aware that I was awake, but agreed that it looked like epilepsy.

Back in the room, I talked to some of my family on the phone. My mother was somewhat surprised to hear that I had developed epilepsy at the age of 52. Later that afternoon, the neurologist came to the room. He asked me if I knew who he was. I did, of course, having eavesdropped on his conversation that morning. He asked me if I had ever had a seizure before, several times in different ways. I never have. He seemed quite intrigued by all of this.

Finally, they let me go home the next morning, after giving me pills to prevent me from having any more seizures, telling me not to drive for six months, and referring me to a neurologist who doesn’t work in the hospital.
So, I called and made an appointment with this doctor for the following Tuesday.

After being driven to the doctor’s office by my husband, I went into the office. A young man who resembled Palmer, the guy who helps Ducky on NCIS, gave me an examination. I had to follow his finger with my eyes, walk a straight line, have my reflexes checked, etc. I never have had very good balance…Oh, well. I told him all about my hospital experience. Then his boss showed up, a doctor about 32, maybe. He said, “Hello!” So I had to go through the whole thing again. Finally, he said, “There is no doubt that you had a seizure. You have an abnormal brain.” (Allow me to insert here that most of my friends and family will not be surprised to hear this.) “Well, not an abnormal brain, but the fluid that surrounds your brain. You have some extra fluid that is pooling at your temporal lobes. This can cause a seizure. It might be triggered by being really tired. So what I want you to do is to take two of your pills in the morning and two at night, don’t climb on ladders, don’t take baths instead of showers, don’t drive for six months. No heavy lifting. I want to see you here again in about a month.”

As one of my friends says, “Stay off the roof!” I’m trying. People are beginning to ease up; they are no longer watching me to see if I’m going to do anything unusual or go off like a bomb. The pills make me a little groggy, but I already was half asleep normally, because of my insomnia. My mother says she can’t tell the difference.

Wow. Abnormal brain sacs. How weird is that? My older daughter who has a sicko sense of humor (inherited from heaven-only-knows where) says that I should name my brain sacs, giving them their own identities. I might. I am not happy about any of this, especially not being able to drive for six months. Thank God for the internet.

It’s really a good thing I’m not still trying to teach English!

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Daughter Diana at an Earlier Age

When my daughter Diana was in middle school, one of her teachers gave her a first-day writing assignment for her parents to do. The parent had to describe the child. That was all there was to it, and it was optional. I wrote something, and then our printer would not work. I think I emailed it to the teacher, but I am not sure. I can't imagine how many students told me over the years that their printers would not work. Anyway, my daughter is nearly 20 now, but this is how I described her when she was 13.

Diana at Thirteen

My daughter Diana is an interesting mixture of my characteristics, her father’s, and some of her very own. We are very proud of her.

When she was born thirteen years ago, her daddy called everybody we knew and some people with whom we were barely acquainted. When we went home from the hospital, I couldn’t find anyone he hadn’t already told. Diana was bald-headed, a good sleeper, and an early talker. Her first word was “baby,” and her favorite thing to do was chew on a Raggedy Ann doll’s black cloth feet. She has changed a whole lot since then. She has recently grown a great deal of long hair, she says many more words than “baby,” and I think her favorite things to do now are to draw cartoons, to talk on the phone, and to figure out ways to avoid her little sister. She gets the ability to draw from her daddy. Another favorite thing to do is to go fishing with him. Early in the spring she caught a 30-pound catfish, very ugly in its facial expression but impressive. Her daddy was not quite as excited as he was when Diana was born, but he came close.

I see some of my own characteristics in her. She is usually patient unless pushed too far, does not like to be yelled at by anyone, and observes the world quietly and thoughtfully. She likes to write and hates to see anyone hurt. She loves animals, particularly her dog Melvin (the rare beagle-chihuahua). She likes to read, just as I do, but there is a difference: while I feel lost without a novel somewhere in the house, she can go a while between books. We both love Harry Potter, so she reads the books first, and then I get them. The television program we both enjoy the most is The Gilmore Girls. I see in her the beginnings of that sarcastic sense of humor that gets me in trouble sometimes. Also, neither of us is too concerned about things like clothes and hair styles.

Belonging entirely to her are her sense of responsibility, her independence, and her dependability. Her good grades and academic awards have filled her father, her grandparents, and me with pride. I have never had to worry about whether or not she did her homework. Diana is much more mature than I was at age 13, and she has a greater strength of character. The opinions of others don’t matter much to her when she thinks she is right. While she might get annoyed with her little sister, and while she might be amused by my fear of mice and my forgetfulness, she can become fiercely protective of us when she thinks we need protecting. Her best characteristics are the ones she has grown into on her own.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twitter Cartoon