Monday, May 02, 2016

Stormy Weather!

     Thunderstorms and a tornado rumbled through later Sunday, passing barely to the soouth of Broad Ripple.  I can't say I miss the chance of what was reported as egg-sized hail.

     Yeah, ponder that: egg-sized.  An umbrella's not gonna help.

     Not saying the weather around here spins trees, but...

     At least we get some good sunsets and sunrises from our storms:

     Not to mention scenes with a bit of Magritte to them! 
     Off to work now.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Mayday! Mayday!

     (It's not a real distress call unless you say it three times.  Still Felony Stupid over the radio, though.)

     I'm looking at this election, which appears to be boiling itself down to Senator Clinton vs. Mr. Trump, and damned if I don't wonder if we should send up flares and start screamin' for help in French, which is what "Mayday!" really is.

     No, it's not the prospect of The Donald or Miz Hillary per se that frets me; we've had worse.

     It's the ignorance of the electorate, abetted by grinning, vapid, cocksure jackanapes of whatever remains of the press.  "Clinton will take away our guns!" "Trump will expel all the Muslims!"  Bull -- pardon my French yet again -- crap.

     Presidents don't have that power.  Congress kind of does; anyway, that's where the attempt will be made.  And the balance of power in the Senate (you would not know this from The News) is kind of precarious this go-round.  The House, not so much.  Hey, does anyone know which chamber it is that confirms Supreme Court Justices?  (Presidents nominate -- and I'd like better nominees -- but the Senate says yea or nay).  And who remembers how a bill becomes law?

     You see this same thing at the state level. There are yard signs all over Indy bearing versions of "PENCE MUST GO," and that's about Indiana's "Restoration of Religious Freedom Act." Love it or hate it, Governor Mike Pence only cheerleadered for it and failed to veto it -- that baby was bred and raised in the State Legislature.  That's where the blame or praise should be directed. Which is not happening.

     The older I get, the more I suspect the real winner of WWII was Fuhrerprinzip.  Oh, the Allies stomped the Fascists, but their damnable notions have got the last laugh (aided in no small measure by the Great -- for which read "autocratic" -- Leaders of the Allied side). Voters think when they pick a Chief Executive, he or she will rule by decree; or they fear if the Other Party's creature wins, she or he will rule likewise.  That ain't their job! But when we keep treating them as if it was, that's what we're going to get, by and by.

     Dammit, this is how you get Caesars.  Do you want a Caesar?

     Don't answer.  History's gonna do that for you.  I don't think it will be pretty.

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Tick-tock, Ms. X! Tick-tock!"

     It's off to the shower for me.  I took more time than I should making breakfast, though very little of it was actual work: Eggs Pomodoro, a can of crushed tomatoes, assorted spices ("Italian seasoning" with plenty of basil, a little cilantro, chives, freeze-dried onion, celery seed, pepper, and some paprika on the eggs) and a small can of mushrooms that wanted used up, graced by three eggs and some Spanish cheese.  Get the sauce hot, pat some little hollows into which you crack the eggs, sprinkle them with little bits of cheese, cover and ignore until they're as poached as you prefer.*

     Tamara wandered through the kitchen half-awake, blinked at the stuff simmering away and allowed as how she'd pass: "That's too complicated to eat this early in the morning!"

     A good point; indeed, I used up most of my early-morning cleverness eating mine and now here you are, left with another food post.  The politicians will have to snark one another this morning -- but they do love it so.
* As an evening meal, fresh onions, mushrooms and perhaps a bit of meat in the sauce elevate this to something that goes quite comfortably with salad and garlic bread.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oh, the Clumsy Snark! The Sneering!

     Senator Cruz has gone and got himself a Veep and the little men inside my TeeVee are nearly wetting themselves in their eagerness to be wicked about it.  One reporter called it an "arranged marriage" between Ms. Fiorina and the Senator.

     I've made no secret that I don't like any of the front-runners, or the next rank, or-- you get the picture.  But for pity's sake, it's a pretty reasonable political move; I'm not a big fan of Ms. Fiorina (I liked Hewlett-Packard; I have my doubts about Agilent) but she made a creditable run for the big prize and is no less-qualified for second place than Senator Cruz is for the Presidency.  (Neither one is especially qualified, if you ask me, a trait they share with Mr. Trump, Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders -- but why ask me?  Ain't you got an Internet and a mind of your own?)

     Can't they just report the facts? 

     ...No.  They can't.  Especially when it's the GOP. 

     I feel sorry for the Republican candidates, who never get a break from the lamestream media.  If pity were votes, they'd be shoo-in; but I don't think that's a viable way to pick a Chief Executive, no more than the, "Vote for me even if you don't like my platform, because I can win," strategy three of the four front-runners are presently employing.  (Or do Senators Sanders and Cruz no longer qualify as "front-runners?"  Depends on who you ask.)  What exactly do you win when you vote for a candidate whose positions you find repugnant?

That's Sorted

     Not settled.  No, I would not say "settled," possibly not ever.  But there is an agreed-upon Care Plan for my mom, she's got an in-room helper 24/7 (and the offspring are dropping in at random times throughout 24/7) until they can get her moved opposite the nurse's station, they're checking daily for skin damage (she's got a neck collar and a long removeable cast on her left hand and forearm and can't move much: you need to keep watch) and they are well aware that we're watching them. Physical Therapy knows exactly what her range of motion/weight bearing limits are and to be gentle and always have at least two people helping her when she's moving. (This has been a problem; the PT people, well-intentioned as they are, really try to get patients moving and stretching; which is great if you don't have a cracked hip, broken fingers, broken vertebra, etc.) And we belive we have all of her medical orders posted on both forms the place uses. 

     Yeah, "both," and 'splain me that?  Or at least why it's a separate entry process?  One's her actual chart, listing all medical orders, medications,observations, etc. including history, to which access is restricted to upper-level nursing types and on up; the other is a summary of active orders and meds, available to all staff via touchscreens in the halls and some pad-type wireless devices.  There are good reasons for limiting access to the first one, but the second one is -- or should be! -- just the currently-applicable parts of the first, possibly plus notes.  They're both nothing but glorified spreadsheets and getting the current parts of the chart onto the widely-available version should be a trivial bit of software.  Discrepancies between the two can be dangerous, especially since the chart is the primary document and where new information is first entered.  Be that as it may, it's not my job -- what my siblings and I can make our job is comparing the two, preferable with nurses looking over our shoulders, and make sure nothing gets overlooked.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

So Of Course

     ...The hospital sent Mom back to the home ahead of schedule.  She's stable and they have done all that can be done.

   So I'm off to an early-morning meeting at this (IMO) ill-managed retirement center.  This is the meeting where we write our contact numbers on the wall of her room with a Sharpie.  Most recent word is Mom will have a helper in her room 24/7 while she's healing up, and gets moved to a room across from the nurse's station ASAP.

     Still not a lot of trust on my side of table.  Gee, what a surprise.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Because Meetings Are So Useful

     Especially without a lawyer present.  Had a sit-down with my family and various brass at Mom's retirement home yesterday, right down to the (not so long on the job) Chief of Nursing.  There were promises that the guilty were being disciplined and heads would roll, etc., etc.  Also "education" would be addressed.  --What, stuff like the most basic of basic First Aid?  Seriously, staff's weak on that?  What are they, custodian's in nurse's scrubs?*

     Don't know about heads but my eyes were.  It was all "the floggings will continue until morale improves," with little to no understanding that these incidents -- and other, lesser, failings -- are only happening on nights and weekends.  They're indicative of a profoundly alienated (and probably insufficient) staff, especially at the lowest levels: they don't see managers unless they screw up and get yelled at, written up or worse and, in the way of nights & weekends everywhere, they figure if they do the very minimum (or fake it), then that's just that much less to screw up and chewed out about.

     This is one thing if you're stamping out cheap plastic widgets down to The Plant or stocking shelves at BiggieMart; it's a very different thing if your work product and client base is elderly, fragile, vulnerable human beings.

     I don't want my Mom to go back there, especially to their "rehab" (almost-a-hospital-looking) wing.  But she chose the place, her only surviving sister is there, too, and during days and evenings, you couldn't ask for better.  Outside those hours, it's another matter.  Even at the hospital she's in at present, doctors and paper-pushers are looking at her injuries and asking, "You're sure you want to go back there when we release you?"

     An important element here is that Mom's as all-there as you or me.  She's not strong, she's physically fragile, but she know what's going on.  She decides for herself.

     I'll tell you what, in the early days of my retirement, I intend to take up high-risk adventures, because when I imagine myself in Mom's position, there will be nobody to act as my advocate -- and I am not convinced my sibs and I are advocating effectively enough with three of us and a couple of well-adult nieces who just happen to be nurses (one's a Nurse-Practitioner!) to advise.  I think -- I hope -- we can get Mom decent care, even in the off hours, but it's going to be a struggle, and I don't think the management of that retirement home is going to be much use.  They don't see nature of the problem and it has somehow failed to register that there are more jobs for nurses and aides than there are qualified workers: push 'em too hard and they just go elsewhere.

     Oh, the administrators and managers running scared right now -- they should be; this would be a great story for the evening news and an even better lawsuit; I'm sure a little digging would turn up plenty more incidents happening to other patients and when you walk into court with a line-up like that....  Well!   There are other considerations, though: run a line-up of vulnerable seniors through days and weeks, possibly months of a trial?  Let defense attorneys pick their testimony to bits?  And having sued one facility, where are you going to put them that won't see them as ticking bombs instead of people in need of decent care?

     I have no answers.
* See, this is why people tell me I'm harsh and unfeeling -- which as near as I can figure, means I won't pretend bullshit is reality.  Hey, that's my Mom, the closest I had to an ally in an unhappy childhood. Tell it to the Marines.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mom's Back In Hospital

     Posting may be light.

     Mom's been in the "hospital-lite" wing of her retirement home for the last few weeks, recovering from pneumonia.  Getting her strength back is a long, hard slog but she's been making steady progress.  Still pretty weak.  Saturday, Mom was feeling a bit better, and called me.  We had a nice chat.

     Not too long after we rang off, she decided to move from her fancy hospital bed to the powered wheelchair.  That's a good thing; she was just about bedfast for awhile.  She rang for help and waited.

     And waited.

     And waited.

     She sat herself up on the edge of the bed and rang again.

     And waited.

     And waited.

     Mom is, as readers will have noticed, as independent and proud as a new mama cat.  She had been talking to me about needing to practice "transfers," the tricky art of moving from bed to wheelchair, from wheelchair to plain chair, and had she not just sat up by herself?  She had.  The chair was close, and were the wheels not locked?

     --I don't know.  Mom's memory cuts out as she grasps the chair.  What we do know is that her sister found her on the floor of her room some time later, with a nasty cut on her forehead and a purple-green set of broken fingers on her left hand, pinky, ring and social, all three of the minor players.  Something had gone very wrong with the transfer.

     The retirement home rendered ineffective first aid (mostly wrapping her head in gauze) and, as near as I can tell, faffed about waiting for the sole and only Nurse-Practicioner on duty to show up and make a decision.  They didn't call family members, despite all three of us being available; I'm on 24-hour call and my two sibs are never far from their telephones.  Fat lot of good that did!

     My aunt called my sister, my sister called the retirement home, and would you not know it, "they were just about to call" her.  Over an hour had elapsed since Mom was found; possibly two since it happened.  Upon arrival, the "highly trained staff" had still not called 911.  They told her even the ambulance would take a half-hour to get there.  Funny, it arrived 10 - 15 minutes after my sister called.

     EMS up that way is run by the fire department and they're serious about it; on finding a elderly person having fallen, she was in a neck stabilizer and on a backboard first thing.

     Ambulance, nearest hospital, ER; stitches (rather a lot of them), temporary cast, a head-to-toe check and then Medical Imaging.  ER Doc wasn't so happy with what he saw; after a chat with his more-than-peers, Mom was whisked off to the Level One Trauma Center hospital a few miles away, where they did more imaging.

     She'd cracked two vertebra, the very first two.  She'd broken some facial bones.  And those well-meaning nitwits nurses and helpers at the retirement center had wrapped her head in gauze, moving her head and neck in the process.

     'Scuse me while I take a moment to seethe.  Okay, it was a deep cut, and if you thought nothing bled like a scalp wound, try it while on blood thinners.  "Stop the bleeding" is high on the list when rendering first aid.  But so is "don't move a suspected neck injury," and an elderly person face-planting off a hospital bed is pretty much textbook neck injury territory.  They can't ram even one of their "highly trained staff" through a 90-day-wonder not-quite paramedic course?  The tuition is tax-deductible!  (Cripes, forget that, could they not hire a few former Boy and/or Girl Scouts?)

     Mom's surprisingly chipper, set up with a long (and removable, oh, this fine future) support cast for her fingers, with a fancy neck collar, the aforementioned stitches, etc. etc. etc.  But she's down to one hand for the short term, and she's not going to be doing any fancy dance steps for the next three months.

     Posting here may be light.  My sibs and I have got a retirement-home management to browbeat, at minimum.  --There are pretty strict limits on what nurses at the various levels of qualification can and cannot do (it's way worse than Girl Scouts or Freemasons, worse than the military, and you can thank our litigious society for much of it); but this crew flunked basic First Aid and followed up by flunking basic Call The Family.  If they can't call 9-1-1 on their own hook, well, the workaround is to call me or my siblings and either we'll call, or we will authorize them calling in our stead; and if the place they shirk for wants a signed okay in the files for CYA, they can have that, too. 

     This is Strike Two, the second time Mom's had a problem and not received timely or proper response.  Weekends appear to a very weak link; weekends and slackers trying to avoid actually dealing with what's right in front of them.  I can't fix them, but I can hold their bosses feet to the fire and I will.

     Meantime, Mom needs visited.  And sometimes help eating.  At least she's right-handed and the broken fingers are on her left hand, but it's cold, cold comfort for a nasty set of preventable injuries.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Will It Hash?

     Yes.  Yes, it will.

     This is quite tasty.  Leftover flank steak, fried potato, a little green onion, red bell pepper.  I fried an egg for on top but I ate it all immediately afterward, so you'll just have to imagine the egg.  A little cheese would gone well, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Have Grilled The Flank Steak

     Oh. My. Heavens.  It's glorious!  Hardwood charcoal (and some of the rosemary twigs I have been saving), the usual simple salt and pepper beforehand, plus a quick working-over with the tenderizing hammer, not too vigorously.  Popped it on the grill for five-six minutes a side, applied a little Irish butter to each side's first hot turn up, and let it sit a few minutes after I took it off the grill.
     The result is tender, flavorful, a bit like brisket with a lovely smokey flavor. 
     Served with a baked potato and simple salad -- arugula, red bell pepper, tomato, green onions, black olives and a garlic mushroom that needed et.

     And tomorrow, I'll be finding out if flank steak hash might be a thing. 


     Hunh?  Yeah, 'm up.  Gotta mow the lawn.  Gotta go to the market -- the Farmer's Market.

     More later.