Down in the hollow

A dork in progress...

Write On
I have been a slacker for months with updates.
Nonetheless, I've started contributing to another blog:

I'm interstatement there as well.

Arc Story
Tuesday evening was very nice; nice enough that a three block walk to the nearest ATM turned into a mile-or-so loop including the community garden and the Trinity College campus. My Ladyfriend had come by, and a late afternoon stroll was a very nice diversion.

Upon returning to my house, Ladyfriend sniffed and noticed a distinctly awful smell. While my housekeeping has suffered a bit recently, this was an unprecedented and unacceptable level of scent to be picking up indoors. Upon closer investigation, it was determined that some dog feces had lodged deep within the treads of one of her boot soles. It had apparently happened early enough in our walk that the ground meeting surface of her boot had been scraped clean (so nothing on the floor thank goodness), but the stubborn remainder was deeply entrenched and aggressively fragrant. Something had to be done. Now.

She removed her boots and asked me to stick them somewhere outside. As I headed out, I remembered that I had left the garden hose uncoiled and at the ready near my tomato planters on the second-story porch. I headed there, jammed one hand into the offensive Doc Marten and grabbed the hose nozzle with the other. I sprayed the "oil, fat, acid, petrol, alkali resistant" but dogshit prone sole at pointblank range, being careful to avoid any sprayback (because eew, just eew). Seeing as I didn't want to cropdust my own yard with even a trivial amount of poo, I aimed for the center of the street, having determined there were no pedestrians in the immediate area. A couple of cars passed through the stream, speeding as many will on my street, but the cleansing process otherwise went smoothly. I left the boot on the first floor front porch, went back inside for a Lysol-soaked paper towel to get the boot extra clean, and disinfected the glistening boot sole by the front door.

A man walked up to the end of my driveway in sort of a huff.
"Do you know what you were doin'?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, what?" I replied.
He repeated his initial question, which I had heard clearly, but not yet grasped. He went on to say that I had been spraying the hose out into the street. I was keenly aware of this, having been doing so minutes earlier, but still failed to understand what his problem was.
"You were getting water on the cars!"
I stared blankly, still confused.
"Um, they're weatherproof" I said finally.
"What?!" he replied, still annoyed and obviously not comforted by my helpful factoid.
"The cars.. they're weatherproof... They can get wet" I explained, more confident that this was a very reasonable point to make.
"I just washed my car!!" he exclaimed, more annoyed now, but finally clarifying his gripe.
"So don't drive through the water! Or honk or something! All you had to do was ask, and I could have turned off the hose. It's that easy"
"Alright, I'll let it go this time" he said as he turned and walked off.

A few thoughts:

-I thought it was best to refrain from explaining what I was actually doing with the hose. Learning that the arcing stream that tagged his cherished ride had fecal flavor crystals would have only made him angrier.

-Speeding has been a chronic problem since the city removed the temporary speed bumps from my street years ago. Anyone driving at or near the speed limit and paying attention would have seen a water spray long before they were anywhere near it. Said driver could then make an informed decision with regards to how to proceed.

-What a whiny little (middle-aged) baby this guy was being about his shiny car. With the exception of the occasional Borinqueneers Family Night, Frog Hollow is not a car show.

-I would like to pat myself on the back for not addressing the man as "Dumbass" or any other appropriate, but likely aggravating term during this exchange. This was not easy. If I had to hold back any more snark, I could have physically choked.

-This guy was looking for a fight, albeit a pointless one, and it was best not to encourage that. If he didn't "Let it go this time" would I have had to mount a four-boot defense, using the ones in my hands and the ones on my own feet? Would I have been able to resist making really bad puns (i.e. "Time for a boot-down!" or "Paging Dr. Marten!" or "Booty call!") while literally kicking his ass with all four extremities on my front stoop? It's best that it ended as it did.

I probably could have run him off with the puns.

Fleet Foxes kick
Rich sounding music and stop-motion animation. I am powerless against such a combination.

White Winter Hymnal:


At peace.
Dad passed away this afternoon around 5:30, with Mom and I close by.

Dad had a couple of days where he seemed to get more animated and able to move a bit, but the past two days he has been less so. Being unable to speak does not hinder his conveying that he is very very unhappy and frustrated. He's not smiling or opening his eyes much anymore. His arms still move around a lot. They finally tethered them to the bed, as he kept batting at the tubes he could reach and knocking them loose.

We spoke with some of the doctors yesterday and today about Dad's condition and the MRI results, and here is the basic story:

In addition to a massive heart attack, my father suffered multiple strokes on both sides of his brain. He has brain damage from the strokes, plus he still has three blocked arteries. He's not in any kind of condition where it would be advisable to perform surgery. One doctor predicted another heart attack within the next few days. There is basically little or no chance he can ever life a normal life again.

After the prolonged, difficult loss of his sister to cancer in 1993 (during which her unscrupulous doctor repeatedly removed the "Do Not Resuscitate" from her chart) my father drew up a very detailed, eight-page living will. Today, in accordance with his wishes, the feeding tube was removed from his nose and nature will be allowed to take its course. Given that he is unable to feed himself, that course could be as long as two weeks, but will likely be sooner, especially if the aforementioned heart attack takes place. I have only mentioned this to a few people thus far, and can't say it without choking and/or welling up.

Dad is being moved from the CCU to a room elsewhere in St. Luke's as soon as a bed opens up, and we're trying to line up a move to the New Jersey hospice where my Mom's sister spent her last days. They were really good to my aunt and the family there, and it's close to my parents' house. This is good, as the daily train rides to Manhattan have been a burden and a bother to my mother.

Halfway through this entry, I saved it as a draft and went for a two-hour walk punctuated with a few phone conversations. Last night I stayed over Geoff's place and took his R75/6 for a three-hour backroads run. Those were both good and necessary things, but I'm kind of in and out of dealing with/comprehending all of this.

Eyes Wide open!
I skipped visiting the hospital yesterday so as to drive back to Hartford, drop off Pix's car, pick up clothes and stuff, etc. before Megabussing back down to NYC. I actually skipped Tuesday as well, with the lingering frustration of Monday's visit still leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

The prognosis for my Dad was bad from the start. Massive heart attack, multiple stoppages/resusitations and 83 years old are a bad combo, to be sure, so it was easy enough to take seriously that it was pretty likely he was a goner. Three days of seeing him motionless, eyes rolled back in his head, surrounded by a kudzu-like tangle of wires and more flat-screen displays than a season of "Pimp My Ride" made that easy to believe.

All that made it all the more wonderful and surprising this morning when Mom and I arrived at St. Luke's to see my father awake and seemingly alert! His eyes were open, his hands were moving about, and he seemed like he was actively trying to communicate. They removed the breathing tube at lunchtime and he managed to breathe on his own, albeit with a loose-fitting oxygen mask in place. He seems to understand us to some degree, perking his eyes up and smiling at the jokes. He attempted to speak, but nobody could understand him just yet. He can't move his legs, which could be from a stroke or brain damage. They did some sort of quickie brain scan thing and say that it indicates some damage. Determining how much will require further testing. He's on the list for an MRI to see what's up with his brain and spine, so hopefully that can happen tomorrow.

Everything else in the CCU was night-and-day different as well. The staff were engaged and friendly, there were several doctors and the hospital social worker on hand. Questions were answered, chairs provided, accommodations made and information shared in a timely and efficient manner. The doctors were all impressed. The head cardiologist called his progress "Remarkable." The doctor who deemed things "Very grim" Saturday night was on hand, very pleased and has a great bedside manner. I was relaxed enough today to notice she happens to have a lovely accent and is absolutely gorgeous as well.

Things are looking up.

The plot thickens
Cemetery plot shopping bears a disturbingly strong resemblance to shopping for a used car. It may be impossible to sell people tiny pieces of land for thousands of dollars in a time of stress and sadness while talking deposits and finance without seeming inherently sleazy, but this afternoon's visit to a local Archdiocese-owned facility steered Mom and I toward pre-registering with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a plot in the Veterans cemetery (Which I'm trying not to call "Vet Sematary", though I've had several such weird manifestations of my sense of humor during the last few days.) Whoda thunk the US Government would be the most upstanding option for making end-of life arrangements?

Sitting Here in Limbo
I'm not feeling the love for St. Luke's. While it is in a lovely spot, right between the Columbia campus and Morningside Park/Drive, they do not have much going for them in terms of bedside manner or communication. We called in yesterday for an update, and were told he was "Stable" uhh, thanks, but that's not very helpful, actually. We took the train there in the afternoon, waited a half hour to speak to a doctor, only to eventually get an answer that was really no more comprehensive than that. They are not very user-friendly.

Holding pattern
We found my father's living will, dated 1990, in all of its Apple IIGS dot-matrix printed glory. We went to the 8:30 mass at St. Anthony's followed by a very hearty pancake breakfast in Ridgewood. We drove back to St. Luke's, parking right by Morningside Park, which is still gorgeous on a dreary rainy day like today. The doctor didn't have very much to say. Dad's body temperature was lowered as part of a process to limit brain damage or something. Since this process includes sedation, they can't check his brain function until they take him off the sedatives. They're going to start raising his temperature tonight.

I don't know if it's comfort and distraction or comfort IN distraction that being in New York City has been providing me, but I've appreciated the little "NY moments" that I have been having. I ended up driving all the way in to Manhattan last night, instead of the New Haven/Metro North relay I had originally considered. Driving was, in itself a needed distraction, especially with the loan of a fun car (Thanks Pix!) but it also gave me a good hour and a half of my favorite radio show, Vin Scelsa's Idiots' Delight. The usual eclectic mix of great music was in full effect, culminating with Horace Silver's "Song for my Father" as I reached 114th street and St. Luke's.

Dad is in a very bad way.
My Dad collapsed this past afternoon at the Port Authority bus terminal after seeing a play with my Mom. His heart stopped. Someone administered CPR and then emergency personnel shocked him a few times to get it restarted. He has been unresponsive since that time. He is in the cardiac ICU at St. Luke's in Harlem on life support. The doctor's prognosis, after explaining what had been done thus far, was, "Very grim"

Mom and I drove back to NJ a little while ago to catch a few hours of sleep and retrieve Dad's living will. He turned 83 this past Thursday. The way they're talking, it seems pretty likely that today will be his last.


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