Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just Venting

In the fair city of Waco there has been a lot of going back and forth about the whole "Tea Party" thing.  There was a fairly recent column in that bastion of liberalism, the Waco Herald Tribune, essentially calling out the "Tea Party" over perceived racism.  Of course there are many replies in the letters to the editor.  What follows is my perception --

I would caution those of you with a more conservative persuasion or who really liked President Bush -- you might find this a bit irritating.  This particular post is but a small diversion for me....just chalk it up to more liberal rant.

The “Tea Party” party espouses many things that make a great deal of sense. They talk about fiscal responsibility, freedom, free enterprise and constitutional rights. They worry about deficit spending and government over reach. They are active, loud and proud of their positions. I appreciate their fervor, if not their ideas

I don’t think I know any of these people, but I don’t think they are full of hate. I don’t think all of their positions are based on President Obama’s race. But, (you had to know but was coming) its’ hard to avoid the inevitable perception that if not race, certainly political affiliation has something to do with their fervor. I do have some questions that might help me with this perception.

I agree with them on deficit spending, it’s been an issue for me for 9 years. Where was the “Tea Party” when President Bush was running up record deficits and letting Wall Street plunder this country? Where were you guys when we had a President commit us to two wars costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars, in debt? Did I just miss the protests and the signs or did you just become aware that President Bush accumulated more debt than all other presidents combined?

Why weren’t you protesting and carrying your flags when the previous administration decided to start eavesdropping on ordinary citizens? You clearly care about protecting freedom, but you guys were apparently on vacation during all of the debate on the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps.

Why do you now support a health care system that has nothing to do with free markets and everything to do with letting large corporations decide who gets health care? You say you want to support free enterprise but when large corporations can pick and choose who gets what medicine and what care, you support oligarchy, not democracy.

Why do you, if not embrace, allow groups to co-opt your message with racist signs and rhetoric? Why don’t you condemn this and make sure they are not part of your message? Why would you condemn and rally around keeping a sitting President of the US from addressing school children? Why would you embrace a lunacy that says a sitting President was born in Kenya? Why would you constantly say that a sitting President has a different faith than what he says?

I know you guys are probably very sincere, caring people. People who disagree with you are also caring sincere people. I know you are extremely passionate and patriotic people.  There are people who see things differently than you that are just as passionate and patriotic as you.

These are just some of the reasons some view the Tea Party protests as late, short sighted and disingenuous; at the worst they seem angry, hateful and racist. I just want to know if it’s not about the current President’s race, or if it’s not about party affiliation, where were you nine years ago?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Yesterday, Sunday, was a beautiful fall day in Waco Texas. The sun finally came out, the winds were quite and it was about 60 degrees. Hands down, my favorite time of year.  Perfect weather and football are hard to beat.

I took Marty outside during the halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game to take in some of the Autumn while I swept and gathered the leaves on the back patio and porch. We completely made over our back yard a couple of years ago, thanks to Marty's nephew et.al., and Marty really likes being out back when the weather permits (that sounds really old). We now have an abundance of flowers, flowering shrubs, windchimes and wind spinners in our small back yard. It really is something of an oasis.

I enjoyed the brief respite from the game but when halftime was about over I was ready to go back in and suffer with my 'Boys. Bad offense, bad offense, bad offense, scored a touchdown, yea.... I digress. I told Marty I was ready to go in and watch the game. I asked her if she was ready to go in and she said no. I then asked her how she felt about staying outside alone while I watched the game. I told her I would listen if she needed anything and would come and check on her. She said she would be great being alone and to go and watch the game. I really thought she would relent and come inside, I don't know why I would ever think Marty would relent about anything.

Marty sat out back with her Diet Coke just looking at the dog, the flowers, the sky, everything I guess. I went back and forth throughout the 3rd quarter checking on her and asking her if she was ready to come in. "Nope" she said, everytime.

I asked her what she was doing. "Watching."

"Watching what?" I said. "Pretty much everything", she said.

I kept thinking sooner or later she would be ready to come in the house with me. "No" was the consistent response to "are you ready to come in". So, I toddled myself back and froth between Marty and the game and the living room and the patio.

Finally, just out of frustration with the Cowboys I went outside and sat with Marty and we watched things together. We saw the scattered birds and butterflies. We saw Maggie laying in the sun. We saw the trails of a jet across a piercing blue sky. We saw life, that's what Marty was watching. She was enjoying watching life, and I think, being alone, or as alone as I can let her be.

As the game crept deep into the fourth quarter I finally said we have to go back inside and see this game through. I told her I needed her to help me with the Cowboys. She finally relented when I acted pitiful enough.

We sat in the living room as the Cowboys finally came alive and scored the winning touchdown. Marty looked at me as I clapped and she said, "Brought you luck didn't I?" I just nodded and thought, you will never know how lucky you make be feel.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I've written before that we kind of gauge our life by the frequency of visits to the doctor, the hospital or the emergency room. It's been almost three weeks since we have been in the immediate presence of "The Great and Wise". That means our life has been rolling along very nicely. It's been a month since Marty has taken any antibiotics. This is the longest I can remember since the strokes. It's been a wonderful respite.

We did go see the good Doctor today just to get a pre-Thanksgiving check up. All appears to be going well, a slightly elevated white count, but not enough to break our anti-antibiotic record. No extra meds for my girl today.

"Great and Wise" and I did come to an agreement that dear Marty is probably due to have portraits done; of her colon. This is otherwise known as a colonoscopy. It is a wonderful life saving procedure that requires a rather interesting, colorful, uncomfortable preprocedure prep; a sense of humor; and some amazing drugs. Versed can be your friend in this particular situation. It makes you forget.

Marty was an active participant in the discussion with Dr. Martindale. Her input was succinct and to the point, "No". She is really not much interested in the old colon pictures. It's okay if they want to do that to me -- not to her. I'm having the same procedure done, on Pearl Harbor day. I suggested we do a twofer, again answer was to the point, "No". Not much fun there. Marty was still saying "No, not gonna do it" in her best George HW Bush impression as we left the good doctors office. I'll try and get pictures to post after we're done, it should be great.

Marty is doing really well. I asked her the other day if she was happy and she of course said she was. I asked her at the same time if she was content, she convinces me every time I ask that she is. Marty is a remarkably resilient woman, colonoscopies notwithstanding, and she has found a way to be content and happy with who she is and what she can do, today. It doesn't mean she doesn't miss who she was and what she could do before; she just lives each day with what she has become. She has always kept me humble, she still does.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Friend Charles

Dickens -- "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." -- this past weekend.

We spent this past weekend at our lake house. All of the kids came down and little Noah made his first sojourn to Richland Chambers. For the first time Marty and I got to spend some extended time with him and just as one would expect, it was the best of times. He was the perfect baby and we both had enormously good times with the child.

It was my daughter Erin's pre-birthday celebration. Erin, Lyle, Matt, Sarah and Noah all came down. Erin, Lyle and I went to Lake Fairfield to try wrestling some redfish into a boat. We did manage to catch a few, but only one keeper. Maybe the best memory was our guide's boat (with us in it) essentially being swamped by waves and sinking. The waves kept coming through the aft (back to you land lubbers) part of the boat and before any of us knew it there was just too much water in the boat. It's never a good thing when the fishing guide and captain of your ship says, "That's kind of scary". We were very shallow and were soon on the bottom, the best of times, it didn't sink far. After considerable baling, pumping and maneuvering we managed to get the boat stuck on a small sand bar. Glad we didn't have to jump overboard our fishing or faithful bwana jostled the boat to and fro and finally floated it. Fishing then recommenced. Memories -- Remember Dickens, the best and the worst.

The worst -- to quote my son, "Noah's never seen the Cowboys lose." He also got to see my Raiders bite the big one too. So, it was a bad football weekend. Okay -- maybe it doesn't qualify for the worst of times but it wasn't as much fun.

The best -- being with my kids. I love them all. They are good people. How better to say it. They are good people. And, I love watching Matt and Sarah be parents. It is incredibly gratifying to see your children with children. It is encouraging to see how good and competent they are. Noah is a very lucky child to have two smart, energetic, caring, loving parents. I am so very proud of Matt and Sarah and love to watch them take care of their child. I also love the part where when the kid cries you can immediately unload them.

Marty is doing great. She loved sitting with Noah, Erin and Sarah in her bed each morning. One evening she sat with Noah in her lap for about an hour. Marty tends to hum anymore, a gift of the strokes. I think it is a G note, but I'm kind of tone deaf. The tone or the volume never changes much, Marty just quietly hums. For the uninitiated it can be a bit disconcerting but for most of us it is kind of background noise. For Noah, I think it was quite soothing, the constant and rhythmic voice. For the longest they sat with Marty humming and gently holding Noah and occasionally giving him back his pacifier. She really liked that, Marty adds that Noah really liked that.

We like being with our family. As I said, our kids are good people and they have managed to pair up with good people. We like that too. We like being at the lake house. We like watching football at the lake house. I would a lot rather see my guys win, but I would rather watch them lose with my family at the lake house than just about anything else.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

8 Pounds

My wife has always been kind of a supreme know-it-all and smart ass. Bright, quick, articulate – all are/were descriptions of Marty. She was/is funny, irreverent and I believe put on this world, among other things, to keep me humble. She certainly has always done a wonderful job at that.

While I was on my recent sinning sabbatical in Las Vegas (good time, lost money, but fought them hard for it) my lovely daughter and her equally lovely significant other Lyle came to Waco to keep Marty company. Lyle is slowly becoming one of Marty’s favorites. He is not afraid of her; he talks to her like she is normal and is always and forever asking questions. Marty likes normal and likes to answer questions..

While they were here Lyle apparently became enthralled with collecting bottle caps from Diet Coke bottles. Diet coke is a subsistence beverage in the Kinard household so one could theoretically accumulate a bunch of these caps. Lyle was most interested in the codes and the come-ons in the caps, thinking there could be much bounty gained through the caps.

Right before Lyle and Erin were to leave for home Lyle couldn’t stand the suspense of not knowing what great stuff they were going to score by redeeming the bottle caps. All I heard was this part of the conversation as Lyle, obviously disappointed, hunkered over the computer:

Lyle: “We thought we were going to win all kinds of Coke clothes or free drinks and stuff:

Marty: “We didn’t think that – You thought that.”

That’s my baby, putting things right where they need to be.

The next day we were having lunch with Nikkie when Marty had another of her classic moments.

With the new grandson, Noah Robert Kinard, we have seen a lot of new pictures of Noah. To prove the our families link to Sir Noah Erin drug out some old baby pictures of Matt, Noah’s Father and our son. Matt was a beautiful little boy. He had bright blue eyes and silky blond hair. He had that natural kind of Scandinavian look of his ancestors. A handsome child, but he had a big head. He still has a large head but it is filled with love, brains and goodness and we all love him for his size 8 melon.

Nikkie says to Marty, “Matt really had blue eyes when he was a baby. He was really pretty, but he had a big head.”

Marty replies, “Yeah he did, it hurt… to give birth”….laughter of course, Marty intended it to be funny.

Nikkie: “How much did he weight?”

Marty: “Nine pounds……eight pounds of head”

I’m sorry but I spit out my food and cracked up as did Nikkie as did Marty. I don’t know if it is really all that funny but I am still laughing as I write this, with apologies to my handsome son. Marty could always make me laugh the hardest – she still does.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pushing the Reset Button

The last two nights I have had dreams where I was drowning. I don't normally remember dreams. I remember these because I woke right after the dream. Yesterday when we went to the grocery store I had what can only be described as road rage in the grocery aisle. I thought I was going to have to ear hole some woman with a pork tenderloin to get her and her sidekick to get out of the lane. Just move along ladies there’s shopping to be done. Then I lambasted some collection agency shill that called and tried to dun me for an HSBC MasterCard bill I don't owe or own. It was great, they called and gave me the perfect opportunity to be a complete asshole, and I took them up on it. 

I recognize the signs; I can feel it in the back of my head and the middle of my neck. I'm a bit overwhelmed and burnt out which leads to some pretty pissy behavior on my part. And, trust me; I’m pretty much an equal opportunity jerk at these times.

I need to get out of here for a couple of days. I need to push the reset button. So, I am reaching for the debauchery and sin that is Las Vegas, tomorrow. By this time tomorrow I will be floating with the other flotsam and jetsam of society through some smoke-filled casino. It is my way of completely getting away and changing my mind set.

Vegas is a place I can go and reset. I think it is because you can be completely immersed in the lights, the mechanics, the engineering of the casinos. I think it is because Las Vegas has nothing to do with reality. It's not real money, it's only chips. Time is not important. Nothing is real there. It’s a great place to go and temporarily forget and if you are careful, recharge.

As a full time caregiver you get a lot of friendly well meaning advice. Getting away and doing something completely different is the best advice I have received. My wonderful daughter and her boy Lyle will be headed to Waco as I arrive in Vegas. Having this kind of back up is invaluable. Our three caregivers are ready and prepared for my departure and we have made the obligatory pre-flight check with the Great and Wise to make sure Marty is well oiled and maintained.

Marty is doing well, infections are at bay, and asthma is under control, for now, so now is the time for just a couple of days of escapist fare for Marty’s husband. I hope to return to my bride with a bit more patience and understanding in a couple of days. I hope that the next time we hit the grocery store I can politely “ahem” the ladies blocking the aisle and not want to assault them. I hope another collection agent will call me…because I’ll still be a jerk to them, sorry, I don’t owe you any money so don’t call me again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomato Juice

Every morning I make Marty breakfast.  Mostly it's the same routine.  Every morning I pour Marty a glass of tomato juice with her breakfast.  Every morning Marty kind of turns up her nose to the juice, but drinks it anyway.  She doesn't partcularly like tomato juice.  She drinks it because.....well she drinks it because I give it to her and she trusts me and knows I love her.

For virtually every meal Marty eats and often during other times during the day I schlep a small bottle of G2 GatorAid to Marty.  She drinks the peach.  She doesn't particularly like GatorAid.  She has completely balked at the green, the purple and the orange.  But, for every meal and in between, as her chief source of hydration, she drinks the GatorAid.  She drinks it because.......well she drinks it because I give it to her and she trusts me and knows I love her.

Marty has never been one to do things she didn't want to do.  Marty was never one to eat things or drink things she didn't like.  Marty never really tried to live her life simply to please anyone.  Essentially, Marty did what she wanted to do, most of the time.  Rules, they were for other people.  She still says that.  If Marty had a choice, she would drink nothing but Diet Coke, she did that for years. 

Since the strokes Marty has struggled a bit with hyponatremia, or low sodium.  According to the Great and Wise,  sodium is a pretty essential mineral in our vast array of minerals in our body.  What I can say is that when Marty's sodium levels are higher, she feels better.  Thus, the tomato juice and GatorAid, both high in sodium and other really neat stuff.  We really try to make sure that the fluids she drinks help with the minerals and electrolytes, that they help with the sodium.  Does the tomato juice and GatorAid help?  Don't really know, but at the very least it makes me feel like I am doing something to make Marty feel better and stronger.

The point is, Marty does stuff every day that is out of her comfort zone.  She accepts doing things and having things done to her she would have never, ever accepted so graciously in her previous life.  She works hard to accept that people are trying to help her.  I think the way she helps with her care and the care of her caregivers is doing things she doesn't like to do, without complaint.  Not one complaint, never, ever.  Not the old Marty....the new Marty never, ever complains. 

Marty agrees to do these things, to drink the tomato juice, to drink the GatorAid,  not because she agrees with it,  but because its her way of helping.  She really could kick and balk at the things she drinks, the food I cook, or the procedures we have to do.  It could be a constant battle.   She doesn't fight.  She doesn't because....because she trusts me and knows I love her. 

Mostly. But also because.... because she wants to help with her own care and  because she loves me...that's how she helps, that's one of her ways of showing her love,  by accepting and doing what is not natural for her.  If you knew Marty before she got sick, you know what a wonderful expression of love that is.