THE WRITE PLACE…

…to build a community. Share Patti Hall's journey …


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Go Ahead And Ask. I Know You Want To.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Purple dinosaur roams the Secret Garden. Essential.

Just where the hell have I been? My last post, aside from the lame January Home page update, was September 2014!!!! Holy tomato, Batman. Sure, I’ve been dipping my toes in the Facebook social pool over the past few months. Just a few lines and a photo or ten, nothing much really.

And, no ma’am/sir, I have not been tucked away in a cozy writer’s retreat tapping out The Great American Novel. I haven’t been off saving the world, one family member or friend at a time either. I haven’t been busy raising a family, promoting a book, working for a living or chairing ten committees.

Nope, that’s you guys. Man, you people have been BUSY!

During my 9-month people-phobia I have had a very limited itinerary; Maggie (the beach cave/home), the Secret Garden, the beach, the post office, the smoke shop and the grocery store. Did you catch that? Yes, I started smoking again, and I’m un-boyfriended too. I suppose I wasn’t ready for either one, despite how great they both (not smoking and boyfriend) were while they lasted. I WILL give quitting another try though.

I spent a month or so in Centralia with my 3-year-old grandson, Cameron, while his mom worked some crazy hours. It was good to be with their little family and it was also good to be back to my beach cave. Cora and Nola came back with me and we spent a fun weekend in the garden and at the beach and marina. The girls made some awesome beach art. Then my Sara, Jon and Cameron came to get them. We had a yummy BBQ in the Secret Garden, they unburdened me of lots of garden goodies, and then they all headed back home.

Aside from beach combing and gardening, I’ve been dabbling in painting and crafting. I spend a lot of time researching and charting my family genealogy. I have so many interests, I don’t think I’ve spent one minute of my life bored. Reading and writing have always been a huge part of my life, but not so much these past nine months.

I watch movies on Netflix sometimes. Last night I watched On Golden Pond. I loved Katharine Hepburn, the lake, the fishing and especially, the loons. The family dynamics were familiar and bittersweet.

I still write weekly postcards to my grandson, Hunter, and every few weeks to my Nola, Cora and Cameron. Other friends and family get snail mail from me occasionally. I sent my adult children, Sara and Jon, “Where’s Waldo” postcards a few weeks ago.

I’m usually up all night and sleep 4-6 hours during the day. I catch the birds singing their dawn chorus at 4:30 A.M. and the often-spectacular sunrise show. At night I get the beach sunset, moon and stars.

I still cry at the drop of a…it was a sock a couple days ago. I was rearranging something and a catch-all basket fell to the floor. As I bent to gather everything I saw a toddler-sized sock. Whether the sock was my grandson Tiven’s, who died in 2013, or his brother Hunter’s, whom I haven’t seen in almost 2 years and who is being moved to the other side of the country this week, it was heart-wrenching. I still avoid the cubby under my bed where I stored their shells, beads, drawings and toys. Hunter’s bright orange toothbrush catches me off guard sometimes.

Since Paul died in 2009, then my cat, my sister, my grandson, 2 aunts, an uncle and several friends, I haven’t moved forward much. I’ve spent a lot of time in Alaska with my parents and siblings, and I’m trying to build strong bonds with Sara’s 3 children.  Most of my adult friendships are on the phone or online.

The Secret Garden and my camera keep me going, as does sharing what I find that amazes me. Publicly, I try to add a kind word or humor when I can. If not, I say nothing.

In the back room of my friend’s garage, are floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall totes. Two households (both mine, both gone) of STUFF. If I could, I would pay for someone to take it all away. That’s not going to happen. My goal is to sell, toss or give away all of it by the end of the summer. Baby steps. I’ll start with 20 minutes a day. Let’s see how that goes. Wish me luck.

So my first blog post in a long time and a goal and plan to unburden myself from my STUFF. Maybe I am moving forward a bit 🙂

Thanks for reading if you made it this far,

Patti

P.S. This was written the last full week in June. Real progress being made on my goal; 6 or 7 empty totes! Grandson moved to undisclosed location, so I’ve decorated an antique box and keep adding his weekly postcards and a few treasures that I find.


9 Comments

Under Construction

PHALL PHOTOS 2013

PHALL PHOTOS 2013

For the next several days I will be reconstructing this blog. If you pop in and things are mucked up, please return later and, hopefully, it will be repaired. I’ve only been blogging for 7 months, but some of the topics that are my focus are getting clogged up behind some of my “this and thats” of frequent blogging. Everything will still be here, but I hope to make it easier to find.

Not Writing, but What The H Have I Been Doing?

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085

Oh, this and that. Crafting and reading to my little grands, taking over daughter Sara’s kitchen to make Chinese Chicken Salad, visiting gr’son in Tacoma, having a quiet week with my fishing & gardening son in Westport, building secret garden with pond, and taking a lot of photos. Will post more on phallphotos.com later this week….including a variety of bees on a variety of flowers and a tattooed seal!

Saturday (later today) I play leader of our writing group and Jon is going to be my assistant! Trying to convince him to read a poem he wrote. We are taking both laptops to show everyone some of the cool writing sites and our group’s new blog site that we set up.  Also, get to announce date for our first mini writer’s conference this winter. Should be fun…especially if I don’t get any sleep:>)

I’m reading a little bit and will have some reviews up soon.

Grieving is an interesting journey. At times, I can hold grief in my arms and rock until it drifts off. Sometimes grief walks beside me like a shadow. Sometimes I have to carry its heavy weight on my back everywhere I go. Other times it slams me to the mat like a wrestler does his opponent.

Grief has this thing about mixing things up too.  I cry over anything/everything, yet I get immense joy at the smallest things. I’m exhausted, yet I can’t sleep., or I sleep for 12 hours. I want to be close to my peeps, yet I have to have my solitude; I pull you close, then push you away. I can’t think straight, misplace everything, forget everything, yet I can upload photos and (hopefully) lead a writing group. I crave food, yet I’m too unmotivated to make or eat it, and when I do, it doesn’t taste right anyway.  I have a very difficult time making any decision and am allergic to commitment.  I mean even tiny ones; “Mom, you want to come out to the docks while I fish?” “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know when we get there.” If I can force myself to get out of my truck, I go, if not, I sit and read or head back home. You just never know with me. And I never know with me. That’s grief for ya.

Don’t fret though, I AM pulling myself off the mat and watching for a brighter day.

Take it easy and thank you for hanging in there while I regroup.

Patti

This gallery contains 21 photos


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Writing Journal; Does Gardening Count?

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Sunset fire with pelicans heading home on Half-Moon Bay, Westport, WA

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Secret garden

We have water! The little waterfall is flowing and Greg (neighbor friend) also put in a head that sprays a bell-shape of water in the pond. He has been placing beautiful chunks of petrified wood to camouflage the edge of the pond. I hope to do the plantings tomorrow. The sound of flowing water is so wonderful! Greg will work on lighting soon, although I have some pretty little metal tea light holders that I’m going to add tomorrow. We have a long way to go, but getting the water flowing was a great motivator :>)

Writing…or not

I’ve done some book reviews on Goodreads here and Amazon here. I posted a lengthy response on Georgia’s blog about JK Rowling using a male name for her latest book here. I’ve also been active on Facebook here. I did a word cloud challenge from Zoe’s site  here.  The result, below, was written with ONLY the words from a specific “cloud” of words:

Stolen Breath

I swear, at present, I know fifteen ladies,
been living on the run, on the road, for years.
Not trying for truth or gods,
but breath.

Maybe you believe there was a stolen car,
a robbed bank,
but you would be at fault; wrong!

Truth is, maybe fifteen ladies
had a chap that robbed that breath…

Patti

What haven’t I done? You would ask! I haven’t worked on the memoir, or the postcards book. I haven’t posted my new features for writers and caregivers. I’ve written the first couple of them and they sit and wait for me in the drafts folder. I just seem a little emotionally hungover from August and, well, stalled.

So there you have it. Hope you stop in and say hi, maybe tell me what you’ve been up to. Tamed any lions lately?

Patti


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Souvenirs from My Heart; FINAL Postcards-13 and 14

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

Patti & Paul going to his 40th high school reunion.
PHALL PHOTO 2006

Here is a completely related photo and the 10th and final installment of the serialized version of a section of my memoir, Souvenirs from My heart; The Patient Patient Advocate. This final post includes stays at three hospitals.

Postcard 1 here. Postcard 2 here. Postcards 3 & 4 here. Postcard 5 here. Postcard 6 here. Postcard 7 here. Postcards 8 & 9 here. Postcard 10 here. Postcards 11 & 12 here.

cont. medical history document…

In the last post, Paul is taken by ambulance, to the first of three hospitals.

July 21, 2008 continued Paul’s patient-personality was already set; he was passive, unassuming, humble, and concerned for everyone else but himself. Therefore, this impasse between his loved ones and his nurse was pretty hard on him. Earlier that evening, he quietly asked me not to leave him alone at the hospital that night. Yet, he hated to break the hospital rules and upset the nurse. He wanted his daughter to go home and get some sleep.

We finally compromised with the nurse and settled down in the family waiting room, taking turns sneaking down the hall to be with Paul. Paul’s daughter asked the nurse for a couple pillows or blankets, but we got a lecture about more broken rules instead. She grudgingly brought some in…over an hour later.

When I sent for the Paul’s hospital, dental and doctor records a month or so later, I learned that she was the head nurse and that she wrote that I was upsetting the patient! This was ironic, because his daughter was forceful, loud and threatening to change hospitals that night. I was quietly in shock over the day’s events and upset for Paul being alone when he had asked me to be there with him.

At some point during the early morning hours, after Paul drifted off to sleep, I drove to our home and packed up provisions for Paul and me. I fed our dog and two cats (after explaining to them what was happening), grabbed business and personal phone numbers, tried to think of special things Paul may want, and finally locked the doors and drove away. It would be almost a month before Paul and I walked through that door again together. Even that would be just a quick, unauthorized visit, before moving up to the third hospital in Seattle.

July 22, 2008 The next morning, Paul’s oncologist allowed me to drive Paul to a second hospital, about 25 miles north, where he was admitted at noon. The oncologist, which Paul had seen for almost a year, certainly changed his tune; he went from being casually friendly at his office, to being brash, tight-lipped and unfriendly at the hospital.

Paul immediately had a bone marrow biopsy (aspiration) and a double Groshong port placed in his chest. When the results of the bone marrow biopsy came back, we were told he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia with 95% blasts (basically, 95% of his blood was mutating cancer cells). The nurses began what they called the “standard 3 and 7 chemotherapy” and we were relieved that Paul had few side effects from it. He was fatigued, a little dizzy at times, but was still walking to the bathroom and standing for short periods of time.

Postcard 13:

If you have any kind of similar medical crisis, Paul and I strongly recommend a port. If no one offers, ask for one. It is a minor procedure that saves, not only many repeated pokes, but you can sleep through medicine, fluid, and other intravenous changes. This is not medical advice, just our personal opinion. Research it for yourself and ask your doctor.

By this time, I have a notebook and pen nearby at all times. I question everything. Paul’s daughter and I write notes about questions to ask, answers, medicine, procedures, and we begin a long to-do list. I asked a family friend to start a patient care page, so I could keep family and friends in the loop. We asked his oldest daughter to put “temporarily closed” signs over all the large signs that lead to the RV business.

I made short trips home to gather documents and other paperwork that I needed for business and personal accounts to be dealt with. Every night I slept in a chair by Paul’s side. His daughter stayed a couple nights, but eventually had to get back to her family. His other two daughters stopped by for visits a few times. A few friends came for short visits.

I borrowed my cousin’s lap top and began studying for my unofficial PhD in leukemia. Less than a year later, I had a conversation with the lead doctor in Paul’s team about the recent peer-reviewed research article that he published. I took my job of advocate and caregiver very seriously.

August 07, 2008 After another bone marrow biopsy, we were told that the chemo treatment was unsuccessful (still 60-84% blasts, depending on who you ask, and which report you read).Paul’s oncologist sent us to a Seattle hospital on 08/08/08, my son’s 19th birthday. This is when we sneaked home for a few precious hours. Paul has 364 days to live.

Our home was surrounded by hundreds of acres of forests. We lived on a dead end street. Before cancer, we spent many evenings in the hot tub, which sat in the back yard. We listened to owls, coyotes and counted the shooting stars. Seattle stuns us; the noise, the population, the cement/glass/blacktop that surrounds us, and the speed at which daily life moves.

Paul joined a clinical trial at the Seattle hospital. After 5 more days of chemo, he was still doing well. The day 14 bone marrow aspiration showed only 0.09% blasts, and day 28 showed none.

August 15, 2008 After living in hospitals for weeks on end, Paul and I moved to an apartment in Seattle. We had to stay near the hospital, while he waited for a stem cell transplant and the next round of chemotherapy to keep the leukemia away.

Postcard 14:

I believe that patience is the character attribute that will do you the most good in this kind of situation. Be patient with others, but also be patient with your self. Wait it out. The anger, frustration, fears and helpless feelings will pass if you are patient. However, be actively patient. Knowledge is power and you will gain some power by knowing what is next, what the options are, and what exactly is the disease that has put you in this place at this time. That is why the first book I am publishing is actually the second in the series. It is the most helpful one for people walking this journey. Souvenirs from My Heart; The Patient Patient Advocate is from Paul and I to you.  

The serial is over, but the good news is that I am publishing it as an ebook! I hope to have it out on Paul’s birthday, the 20th THIS MONTH! One can dream…

Other notes:

***This is the LAST POSTCARD  and  I apologize again for the length; blame my sis (again)—she’s so impatient!

***An article I wrote about the beginning love affair with my blue-eyed man has been selected to be in a PAYING contest later this month! Get your voting fingers ready again. I JUST FOUND OUT THAT IT WILL BE PUBLISHED ON THE 19th!!!

***My youngest sis (the impatient one) suggested we make the reading photos, like the ones (here), a regular feature on this site. THE READING PLACE will be ready Monday! We have a selection of pictures and quotes from some unusual, cozy and crazy reading places, along with the reading habits of THE WRITE PLACE community members. That’s you, peeps:>)

Send your photo and quote to my email below. Email photos and quotes to me at: 1writeplacewordpress at gmail dot com Thanks for hanging in there, and your comments are especially appreciated.

Patti


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Souvenirs from My Heart; Postcards-11 and 12

Thistles PHALL PHOTO 2013

Beautiful Burdock
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Here is a completely unrelated photo and the 9th installment of the serialized version of a section of my memoir, Souvenirs from My heart; The Patient Patient Advocate. Paul has a 10 hour ordeal; the clinic, the ambulance and the first hospital.

Postcard 1 here.

Postcard 2 here.

Postcards 3 & 4 here.

Postcard 5 here.

Postcard 6 here.

Postcard 7 here.

Postcards 8 & 9 here.

Postcard 10 here.

cont. medical history document…

July 21, 2008 continued

In the last post, Paul just had another “episode.”

The nurse and I got Paul to the exam table and gently laid him down. I asked her to find some blankets for his body-vibrating chills. Both doctors and two nurses soon filled the tiny room. One nurse tried to get an I.V. line going in Paul’s arm.

The ambulance attendants showed up quickly and tried to get into the room; one grabbed the IV bag from a nurse and asked her step out of the room.  The other nurse passed the I.V. things to an EMT and squeezed out of the doorway, while the second EMT directed the action from the threshold. The doctors and a nurse hovered in the background.

I held Paul’s hand and lightly caressed his face from my discreet position between the exam table and the wall. I answered rapid-fire questions from nurses, doctors and EMT’s. No one had been able to get a line in for an IV. Everyone in the tiny room was behaving confused and just on the brink of panic, and all of them (except one doctor) had already unsuccessfully attempted to get an IV placed. They couldn’t get his blood pressure reading either. They tossed ideas and suggestions back and forth around the room.

One of the EMT’s made the decision to try and get Paul to the ambulance. It was another uncoordinated scramble to get Paul from the exam table, onto the ambulance gurney, through the doorway, down the hall, through the waiting room, and out of the clinic doorway. There was little room to maneuver anything.

POSTCARD 11:

Stay quiet and out of the way if you want to be there for your loved one. Answer questions as succinctly as you can, then slink back into the woodwork; otherwise, you are out of there! There was one EMT and one nurse who wanted me out of the room. I could see it when their eyes fell on me as they assessed the situation. Then their eyes fell on the doctors, who had obviously allowed me to stay. I was allowed to stay.

Once inside the ambulance, but still in the clinic parking lot, it took the EMT’s almost 15 minutes to get an IV going. Everyone was visibly shaken.  The foreheads of the EMT’s were shiny with sweat. There were fine lines of blood splattered in several directions. I just wanted them to get Paul to the hospital! Paul was still dazed, but he was responsive enough to humbly try to cooperate. (Paul was captain of our rural fire department at the time; a 29 year veteran, but these city EMT’s didn’t know him. They didn’t know that this was the love of my life either.)

At one point an EMT was so frustrated trying to get the needle placed, that he gruffly told Paul that he “just needed to hold still!”  Paul weakly replied that he would try. I was shocked and told the EMT that Paul obviously wasn’t in control of the wracking chills that were making his body shake so hard. The EMT’s glare sent me to family-of-patient hell. I glared back through my teary eyes.

The second attendant made a final and successful attempt to get the I.V. going and they prepared Paul for transport. I went across the lot and brought my truck next to the ambulance, so I could stay close behind when they were ready to go.

When they eventually got Paul stabilized in the hospital ER, I went outside to sneak a cigarette and to call my family and Paul’s daughters. In between, I was reassuring Paul, making sure he was comfortable, and trying to get answers from the few medical personnel on duty.  His middle daughter showed up just as we were taking Paul upstairs to his room.

Paul was finally admitted and in his room at the small hospital by midnight; we had left home for the clinic 10 hours earlier. This was the first time Paul had ever been a patient in a hospital. He’d just been through a harrowing experience. He had the hell scared out of him when he was told that he had an un-diagnosed, but life-threatening illness. He was exhausted.

I truly value the nursing profession, but the nurse on duty that night seemed heartless and cruel. Paul’s daughter and I tried to convince her to allow us to stay with him. We understood that visiting hours were over, but would she please consider that Paul had never been a patient in a hospital before, and had just been told he may die soon? Would she want to be left alone under those circumstances, we pleaded?

POSTCARD 12:

All medical personnel have a fatal flaw that you might as well hear about from me: they are human, damn it. That means that they get to have bad days. It’s just that their bad days are usually hidden by practiced professionalism. Sometimes the death, dying, sick, bleeding, messy, whiny, long hours, supervisor’s an a**hole and family life frustrations crack the facade. Sometimes their career path is so worn, that they forget to get off it when they realize that they are on the wrong path. Take a deep breath, use humor and kindness, and if that doesn’t work call in someone from the next rung up.

Other notes:

***The LAST POSTCARD is next, and then I hope to have some good news to tell you about them. I apologize for the length of this one; blame my sis—she’s so impatient! I am posting the last postcard tomorrow, the day four years ago, that I lost my Paul.

***An article I wrote about the beginning love affair with my blue-eyed man has been selected to be in a PAYING contest later this month! Get your voting fingers ready again. 

***My youngest sis (the impatient one) suggested we make the reading photos, like the ones (here), a regular feature on this site. THE READING PLACE will be ready Monday! We have a selection of pictures and quotes from some unusual, cozy and crazy reading places, along with the reading habits of THE WRITE PLACE community members. That’s you, peeps:>) Send your photo and quote to my email below.

Email photos and quotes to me at: 1writeplacewordpress at gmail dot com

Thanks for hanging in there, and your comments are especially appreciated.

Patti


11 Comments

Souvenirs from My Heart; Postcards-Ten

Mural

Mural on Building In Westport, WA
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Here is the 8th installment of the serialized version of a section of my memoir, Souvenirs from My heart; The Patient Patient Advocate. We load my truck with Paul and his symptoms and head to the after hours clinic one last time.

Postcard 1 here.

Postcard 2 here.

Postcards 3 & 4 here.

Postcard 5 here.

Postcard 6 here.

Postcard 7 here.

Postcard 8 & 9 here.

cont. medical history document…

July 21, 2008 2:30 P.M. (Four months after the all-clear from the oncologist.) We went to the urgent care clinic to have a doctor look at the red spots that had recently developed on Paul’s feet and legs, and with the hope that they had something better to help with Paul’s difficulty breathing and itchy eyes. As usual, we went out in the hallway and waited for his name to be called—we didn’t want to be exposed to other people’s illnesses. After briefly speaking to the doctor on duty, Paul was sent down the hall for chest x-rays and blood draws.

 

We spent more time waiting outside of each lab, and then went back to the chairs in the main hallway. We sat flipping through magazines and sharing things that we discovered. Paul had the peculiar habit of reading magazines backwards. It drove me crazy, but always led to some fun teasing back and forth. (This sudden and incredibly vivid memory brings a smile to my face. It feels like it was just yesterday; like I had a visit with Paul.)

 

The receptionist finally called Paul’s name and the doctor led us into an exam room, carrying a small stack of lab results. The handsome young doctor had been confident, friendly and attentive to Paul’s medical issues when we spoke with him more than an hour and a half earlier. Now he was clearly shaken up, telling us that he had called in a consulting doctor, because Paul’s WBC (white blood count) was over 200 k. When he told us the normal range was 4,500-10,000, I felt light-headed, and Paul just stared at me (as if I held the answers he wanted to hear). His other lab values went too far in the other direction. I asked what that meant and the doctor said that he would rather wait and talk to the other doctor first.

 

A nurse came into the exam room to draw more blood.  I noticed that Paul was starting to look pale. I calmly told the doctor that I thought Paul was going to have another “episode.” I had already witnessed two, and I knew the subtle signs that even Paul did not recognize. When the doctor asked Paul if he was okay, Paul quietly said, “Yes.” I stayed calm, but insisted that he was not okay, that he was getting worse quickly. Assured by Paul, and ignoring me, the doctor left the room.

 

As the door clicked shut, Paul said he was a little dizzy—the very words he said before his last two “episodes”—followed by instant burning hot skin, wracking chills and profuse sweating. These signs were at least as dramatic as they sound. I had the nurse hold onto Paul, and then I threw open the door and loudly ordered someone to call 911. As you may recall, the last time (16 months earlier) that this happened here, Paul’s own doctor sent me (with only the help of another waiting patient) to get Paul into my truck and to the hospital. This action doesn’t really fit my usual personality, but I wasn’t taking any chances this time.

 

Postcard 10:

 

Health is such a blessing. We aging baby boomers seem to end up with more visits to the doctor, so why not be ready? Like young parents who drag a diaper bag everywhere they go, let’s make an appointment bag. Have it in the car or on the coat rack by the front door. Add a novel, puzzle book, or magazine, a notebook and pen. Add a bag of raisins, dried fruit, or nuts, and a bottle of water. Add whatever would help you stay calm during the minutes and hours of waiting time in medical offices. Be creative!

 

Other notes:

***The postcards are nearing the end (2 more), and then I hope to have some good news to tell you about them.

***From my last post: An article I wrote about the beginning love affair with my blue-eyed man has been selected to be in a PAYING contest later this month! Get your voting fingers ready again. 

***Again: Watch for Monday’s selection of pictures and quotes from some unusual reading places and habits of THE WRITE PLACE community members. That’s you, peeps:>)  Send your photo and quote to my email below.

***A NAME: My youngest sis suggested that we make the reading photos and quotes a regular feature here. “Reading Place” fits well with the blog site title, so that’s what we’ll go with. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

Email photos and quotes to me at: 1writeplacewordpress at gmail dot com

Thanks for hanging in there, and your comments are especially appreciated.

Patti