Monday, December 27, 2010

A Season of Giving

This year we did things a bit differently at my house.  The kids received one gift plus fun things in their stockings.  It worked out really well for me because my wrapping chores on Christmas eve were substantially reduced.  I received wonderful gifts from them.  But what I'd like to share with you are the engravings that my youngest son made for one of his art classes.  They, to me, are absolutely wonderful.

 River of Beer

 Self portrait

 Snow fantasy


I hope your celebrations were festive and rewarding and that the New Year brings joy and contentment.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Sunday

The basement is drying out.  Slowly in parts, but it has not flooded again, thank goodness.  We've even had sunny weather several days.  Which is unusual for the upper left hand corner of the map in December.

Unfortunately Sundays seem to have become synonymous for disaster in my small world.  Today I returned home after church to find Scooter, my 7-year old dachshund, in considerable distress.  He was crying and  quivering.  I took him outside to see if his bladder stones were back but urination was not the problem.  He could not shake his head without yelping in pain.  So I called my regular vet, who was booked for the day, and then bundled him into the car up to the Emergency vet on 15th NE and NE 148th.  2 hours later (several more urgent cases came in at the same time), it appears that Scooter may have a herniated disk in his neck.  When the vet palpated his back, he was fine but when she moved his head down and to each side, he cried out loudly.  So tomorrow after chemo, or Tuesday, he will be going to his regular vet to be sedated for xrays to hopefully conclusively determine whether there is disk herniation and the extent of it.   He's on three pain medications/muscle relaxants and complete bed rest for 4 weeks.  Which means he must stay confined in a kennel most of the time, and be carried outdoors to do his business.   No walks or tearing around the house with Truffle.  We're trying to get the inflamed area to quiet down and heal itself without surgery.  He is also banned from wearing a neck collar for the rest of his life, just like Max.

It's very difficult to confine him to the kennel which has been brought in from the garage, cleaned up and placed in the dining room, because he thinks he's being punished and so he whines.  Loudly and constantly.  Occasionally Truffle joins him in the pity party from outside his prison, while Max paces back and forth in concern.  I may have to resort to wearing earplugs in the house.  How festive.

Fingers and toes crossed that we can make it through this latest test of our holiday spirit.

Here are the dogs this summer in a happier time, courtesy of my son's camera which has a video component.  It is mainly Truffle, but Scooter is a constant presence and Max shows up at the end.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When it rains it pours

We've had a very grey and soggy winter thus far in Seattle.  Yesterday and today it poured, even by Seattle standards.  In fact, according to KING5, Sea Tac recorded a new daily maximum of 2.20" of rain today.  35th Avenue NE, the main north/south thoroughfare by my residence, was closed this morning because water from the creek, a half mile north of me had overrun the road. 

What this meant for me, was that my youngest son texted me at church to inform me that the basement had flooded.  Up the hill next door to my house,  are two Hong-Kong size houses that went up 3 or 4 years ago.  This, plus the unusual deluge of rain this weekend, may be the genesis of the small geyser that was bubbling on the floor in the central part of my basement this morning.  My youngest son went on the roof to clean out the gutters just in case, and I trenched around two sides of the house to try to relieve some of the water pressure.  Fun stuff to do in your church dress and dress boots....Then friend Anne and friend Spot brought towels, an extra mop dry vac, and some fans and we went to work inside.  Several hours and no rain later, the geyser has become a trickle and the towels (3 loads of them washed and dried thus far) seem to be soaking it up well. 

It looks like I may need some serious basement drainage work done.  Like Scarlet O'Hara, I will think about that tomorrow.  Or maybe even later as I have chemo tomorrow. 

Or, perhaps I could modify my oldest son's engineering school robot project to soak up the water instead:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Elizabeth Anania Edwards 1949-2010

This is how I choose to remember her.

She loved deeply, and because she was the more intelligent of the couple, she knew where the real  priorities in life were.  She wrote a moving eulogy for Tony Snowe, George W. Bush's press secretary.  I recommend that all of you read it because it says a great deal for us and about her generosity of spirit in these polarized and grossly politicized times.  I am profoundly saddened tonight.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scene at Safeway 11/20/2010

Mom (to 5 year old son):  "Come on, you're in the way of that lady!"

I smile down at the little boy.

Son (to mom):  "That is not a lady.  That's a man!"

I can see one of my sons saying the exact same thing at the same age. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Honeymoon from Hell

One thing that happens when you get married, is that you learn you have to compromise.  When we first discussed a honeymoon after our wedding, we both agreed it would be nice to be somewhere warm and sunny, on the ocean, a time to relax with each other before returning to our wonderful, but hectic jobs and lives in D.C.  My fiance had enjoyed a Senate junket to Bermuda the year before, but Bermuda in October was somewhat iffy as far as warm weather went, so I suggested the Virgin Islands, specifically St. John, Virgin Islands.  Even more specifically, Caneel Bay Resort on St. John, Virgin Islands.  Caneel was formerly owned by the Rockefeller family and was situated in a National Park with a golf course, tennis courts and a swimming pool in addition to the beach and ocean.  As in this place:

But my intended put his foot down when he saw the cost. His family origins were modest--his father was a rural Presbyterian minister, who had not earned more than $15-20,000 at the height of his career and with 6 kids that had not gone far.  So he had sticker shock when he learned the cost of a week's stay at a premier resort.  Instead, a coworker of his recommended a place on St. John's called Maho Bay. We sent for information, and this is what the multi colored brochure we received back said:

Maho Bay is dedicated to the belief that it is possible to live in comfort and harmony with a fragile environment without spoiling it.  The resort is a community of tent-cottages located in a private preserve within the boundaries  of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Here one may study the delicate ecology of one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean .  Like a Japanese Garden, Maho is a careful grooming, not an alteration, of nature.  No bulldozed roads scar the land.  All materials were carried in by hand in order to preserve the ground cover.  In such surroundings, solitude and privacy are balanced with a relaxed sense of community....
...The dwellings measure 16' x 16' and are set on plank decks that cantilever over thickly-wooded hillsides.  Most units offer a spectacular panorama of sea, sky, crescents of white sand and peaceful islands.  There open porch for private sunbathing.
All this ecologically preserved paradise, and for only $50 a night!  I was persuaded by the rhapsodic lyricism of the brochure and, of course, by the fact that the soon to be spousal unit, had put his foot down on Caneel Bay.

After our wedding night dinner with friends, we spent the night in Lexington at a hotel and rose early the next morning to catch a flight back to DC.  Several of our friends who had been at the wedding were also on the flight, and one of them, Michael, let the pilot know that it was our honeymoon, so we had greetings over the loudspeaker.  This was back in the days when you were served meals on flights, and we were given breakfast even though it was a short hop to DC from Lexington.  However, having had beaucoup champagne and Bloody Marys the day and night before, breakfast did not sit well with me, and I ultimately had to make a dash for the restroom as soon as we deplaned at National Airport.  With seconds to spare, I gave up my breakfast.  Luckily my friend Karen shepherded me to the loo, and returned me back to my spouse so we could take the next leg of our honeymoon, which was a flight to Miami, where we transferred to a plane bound for St. Thomas. 

We arrived in St. Thomas in the late afternoon.  Then, we had to find a way to get to St. John.  If we had gone to Caneel, a private launch would have picked us up and whisked us to the resort.  As it turned out, we were held up at the airport trying to figure out how to get to the ferry terminal on St. Thomas, without spending too much money.  As I recall, we finally took a taxi, but missed the evening ferry by minutes.  I was attired in a silk dress and heels, carrying my luggage and a wooden tennis racket which I had intended to use on the tennis courts, wherever they were.  Obviously reality had not set in.  It began to once we boarded the very last public ferry from St. Thomas to St. John for that day, after the sun had set.

We were the only white folks on the ferry.  It was loud, crowded and it was the first time I ever saw a spliff being rolled and smoked.  These are large conical shaped marijuana joints.  There we were, two white kids on a large ferry in the dark of night, trying not to watch these guys in dreadlocks with a boombox belting out reggae, passing the spliff between them.  Hoping not to be noticed. Not knowing what to do if we were.  I remember sitting very close to my new husband, hiding my head behind his shoulder for some portion of the trip.

When we got to St. John's we were some of the last to come out of the ferry because we were so weighed down by our luggage.  And when we got off the dock and stood on land, we could not find a taxi or a bus.  Finally, the husband approached a flat bed truck that was parked under the yellow glare of a streetlight to ask about where we might find a taxi to take us to Maho Bay.  "Maho?  I can take you mon, in my taxi," the driver said.  And that's when we learned that there were no taxis per se in St John's but instead these flat bed trucks with benches nailed in the back where you sat and clung to the wooden slats as the truck took hair pin turns up and down narrow roads whose only illumination came from the headlights of the truck.  And although the truck was noisy, its noise was drowned out by the tree frogs croaking out their songs of lust to each other by the thousands and thousands.  We had to yell at the top of our voices to be heard over deafening roar of nature and diesel.  We were also the only two passengers on the truck, which meant we paid full freight.

By the time, we made it to Maho Bay, we were ready to tuck in for the night without noticing much of our surroundings, although the two single camp beds seemed a bit more than I had bargained for.  In the morning we awoke and this was what our cabin looked like from the outside:

The overhang from the tropical forest created a  shade which killed the idea of sunbathing on the porch. There was a nice view of the ocean from our kitchen, with only one, or maybe two electrial wires in sight:


But that was the one, nice thing about the tent.  It was stuffy and humid during the day despite the brochure's waxing on about  "a vacation without walls.  The three room cottages literally breathe with the cooling trade winds."  And I should have read the brochure more closely because where it was honest,  e.g. it did mention that the bathrooms were "centrally located."  This meant that for us, the bathrooms were down two flights of wooden stairs, that they were separated by sex and that there was no hot water (part of being ecologically conscious here).  No hot water. 

The secluded nature of the Maho Bay meant that there was nothing besides the beach within walking distance and even the beach was four or more flights down the stairs.  Which meant that coming back to your cabin at the end of the day from the beach was a fair puff. We had a camp stove to cook on and an ice box to keep things cool, as long as we had ice, which we could purchase from the Maho Bay camp store at dreadfully inflated prices.  Prices on all foodstuffs were dreadful, except for rum.  Rum could be had for less than a $1 a bottle. 

Which would have been great, except that I was on my first week trying to quit smoking, so I could not drink alcohol at the time, lest it weaken my resolve.  A half rasher of bacon at the camp store was close to $5,  highway robbery at the time, but we were stuck, unless we wanted to pay premium rates for a flat bed taxi truck to take us into Cruz Bay, the town on St. John to buy groceries, or wait for a bus which showed up at irregular times and took half again as long.  As I recall we took the bus to Cruz Bay only once or twice.

There was a small restaurant at Maho Bay that had a limited menu and was, of course, rather expensive, which meant we cooked most of our meals on our honeymoon.  Neither of us were particularly good cooks as I recall.

The major indignity, and one that had not been mentioned in any of the brochures or information provided to us, had to do with termites.  Lots of termites.  As in waking up to a 5" wide termite trail snaking through the bedroom of our tent.  Going to bed at night and having to yet again, sweep out the termite trail from our bedroom.  Twice a day, and I was still not used to it by the time we left a week later. 

And if that were not enough, early on in the honeymoon, my then-husband came down with an itching purulent rash on his face, the result of standing under a machineo (ph.) tree for shelter during a sudden rainstorm.  Unknown to us, the sap of the machineo tree is like poison ivy and some of the sap dripped on his face.  So he was in agony for several days.  Then, when he was healing, I developed an allergic reaction to bug bites on my legs, so I was rather out of commission.  The camp store had a very limited pharmacy.

It could have been worse.  We visited another campground at a national park while we were there, and the tents provided by the National Park Service had no floor at all, no separate kitchen, and the latrines smelled far worse than those at Maho Bay.  I didn't even dare think about what I was missing at Caneel Bay.  What with the nicotine withdrawal and cold showers and camp beds, I was already plenty crabby.  I didn't need to think about what could have been.*  And we did have a wonderful charter day sail with a couple who ran Bare Ass charters--their motto was "Put a little color in your cheeks."  Jim bought a tshirt from them that he wore out over the years.

I understand that years later, back when the then husband was teaching graduate school in public affairs at the UW, he did use our honeymoon as an object lesson of some sort in one of his economics classes on how spending a lot of money can be a GOOD thing in certain situations.  Whatever.

*for the record, I have never smoked tobacco again in any form.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Update November 15, 2010

I had the third installment of my sixth chemotherapy session of my third round  treatment today.  I'm not exactly sure how to correctly term it, but I have been receiving paclitaxel (the taxol derivative) since June.  The course is three weeks on, one week off.  I have been lucky that the side effects have been so minimal up to now.  But last week, I developed a mild neuropathy in my toes- a slight tingling and numbness that did not go away in a day or two, as it has done previously.  It was mostly gone today at the oncologist's, but not entirely.  The Physician's Assistant  Sarah and I spoke with said that eventually should this side effect continue to grow and encompass not only my toes but my ankles, then we will have to discontinue the chemotherapy.  She said that the effects generally are more pronounced by the eighth session.

This is always a balancing act--balancing the efficacy of the treatment, the introduction of a poison to slow or stop tumor growth, against my quality of life.  I liken it to peeling an onion, starting with the skin and working layer by layer into the interior.  It's a judgment call when to stop, and although I am not there, it is a sobering reminder of  the end point of my journey. 

We will all die someday, but one way we keep ourselves 'sane,' if you will,  in the face of this dread outcome, is not to deal with it, to assume that we will live forever.  To constantly reflect on mortality would leave me with an overwhelming fear, and freeze my ability to enjoy each day.  As it is, I find my life seriously circumscribed by my loss of voice, so I do have a regular reminder.  Just as when I look in the mirror.  I try not to let these things bother me, and I've succeeded for many months using a number of distractions, but today it just got to me a little.  Damn.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Armistice Day

John Singer Sargent's painting Gassed hangs in the Imperial War Museum in London; the canvas is over seven feet high and twenty feet long. This impressive painting depicts soldiers blinded by gas being led in lines back to the hospital tents and the dressing stations; the men lie on the ground all about the tents waiting for treatment.

"With mustard gas the effects did not become apparent for up to twelve hours. But then it began to rot the body, within and without. The skin blistered, the eyes became extremely painful and nausea and vomiting began. Worse, the gas attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. The pain was almost beyond endurance and most cases had to be strapped to their beds. Death took up to four or five weeks. A nurse wrote:

I wish those people who write so glibly about this being a holy war and the orators who talk so much about going on no matter how long the war lasts and what it may mean, could see a case--to say nothing of ten cases--of mustard gas in its early stages--could see the poor things burnt and blistered all over with great mustard-coloured suppurating blisters, with blind eyes . . . all sticky and stuck together, and always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke."

This passage is from John Ellis, Eye-Deep in Hell: Trench Warfare in World War I, (1976), pp. 66-7.
Here is a good history of World War 1. 
Also, the Australian government has an excelent  site up about Gallipoli that is very worth visiting as well.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The American College of Physicians Luncheon Nov. 5

The Washington Chapter of the American College of Physicians held its Annual Meeting this weekend.  Their awards luncheon was Friday where Sarah received the Outstanding Medical Student of the Year.  I was so proud of my daughter.   Dr. Doug Paauw from the University of Washington, presented the award and I will never forget his last words about Sarah:  "she has a heart of gold and the soul of a healer." 

Sarah's dad, Dr. Paauw, Sarah, me

P.S.  I discovered at the luncheon, that Dr. Pauuw is a 1980 graduate of Macalester College.  Just as I and Sarah's father are.  Go Oski Wow Wow!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halloween 2010

I had very few trick or treaters Halloween night.  It was in keeping with the other five years I've lived in this house.

However, we had a suicide 5 or 6 houses down the street around 4pm.  I did not find out about it until today from a neighbor.  The house was owned by a very elderly woman who had been placed in an old folks' home when several strokes had rendered her non compos mentis.  Her daughter had lived with her in the house, and had been in and out of jail a number of times on drug and other charges.  She was about my age.  The other family members put the house on the market to fund the care for the elderly woman.  It had been on the market for 3 months.  An offer came in on Sunday finally, and the daughter, not having any other options other than homelessness, hanged herself.

Even though I didn't know the individuals, other than I saw them when they were out walking, the older woman with a cane or walker and the daughter with her two pit bulls, I am deeply shaken by this.  I refuse to watch the election returns tonight, because it is just one more aspect of our social safety net shredding as people forget the past and turn on those who were seeking to change the fallout from the 8 years of Bush administration policies that have left us deeply in debt and fighting an unwinnable war that was begun on the basis of lies.  As Al Franken put it last week, "it's easier to drive the car in the ditch than it is to push it out." 

I am truly in despair over the inability of US citizens to see past the agit prop and the fear mongering and look at the facts.  Yes, the Democrats bear some responsibility.  But I hold the media, the Republicans, and lazy voters to 3/4 of the blame.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Regina Barbara Werner Holst, my maternal grandmother

But to me, she will always be Gaga.  I was responsible for naming her because I couldn't say "Grandmother," when I was a toddler.  Gaga was as close as I could get, and it stuck with all nine of her grandchildren.

Regina was born January 20, 1896, either in Kewaskum or New London, Wisconsin.   The first picture below was when she turned 16, the second her New London, WI, high school graduation picture.

(the quotes below are her words, based on interviews I did with her over a week in January, 1973, for a journalism class during Interim at Macalester College)

Regina was the youngest of four and a much spoiled and cosseted baby of the family. The death of her father when she was 16 affected her deeply. It  meant there was no money for private college for her as there had been for her siblings--all the family's money now came solely from income from several properties owned by her father, Anton.  Anything left over went to pay for her older brother Matt's college tuition.  So the summer after graduating from high school in 1913,  Regina went to to a teacher's training school. However, she was unable to find a teaching job in her district because, according to her, "the Superintendent just didn't like Catholics."

Nursing School

She turned to nursing as a second choice and overrode her mother's objections that it was 'unladylike.'  St. Joseph's School of Nursing, affiliated with Marquette University, offered free tuition, room, and board, so she made the 150 mile trip from New London to Milwaukee and enrolled. 

Her initial determination to go to nursing school gave way to a severe bout of homesickness in her first term.  Although the Director of the nursing school, Sister Mary Alberta, forbade her from going home, my grandmother ignored her just as she had her mother, and in the end the Director took the extraordinary step at the time, of allowing  this very stubborn, probationary nursing student leave to return to New London to see her mother.  But all it took was one weekend, and my grandmother was more than ready to come back to St. Joseph's. "By the third day at home, I even found myself wanting to be back at school.  I missed my friends there almost as much as I had my mother before."  Homesickness cured, she became an earnest if occasionally scattered student.

"One day when I was a probationer, I was helping Miss Wilson do the rounds in the obstetric ward.  I could do everything but give medications then.  Miss Wilson had red hair and she liked to talk to the doctors so she pulled me aside and asked, 'Werner, can you take the temps?'  I nodded and she went off and flirted with several of the doctors who were on that day.  I knew the whole procedure for taking a patient's temperature:  stick the thermometer in carbolic acid, then water, then wipe off with a cotton swab and stick it in the patient's mouth. We had only one thermometer then so I had to repeat the procedure on every one of the patients.

"As I started recording the temperatures, I kept noticing the women's temperatures kept climbing higher and higher.  When I brought the results back to Miss Wilson, she got very excited and started calling all the doctors, saying 'Your patient's very sick and we don't know what's the matter.  You'd better come at once!'  So all the doctors and Sister Chlotilda, the floor supervisor, rushed over to obstetrics.  In the middle of the confusion, Sister Chlotilda asked Miss Wilson if she'd taken the temperatures and she had to admit that she hadn't--she'd asked me to instead.  Then Sister Chlotilda turned to me and asked me if I knew how to take temps.  I nodded yes and then she asked if I'd shaken down the thermometers after each one.  I felt as if the ground could just swallow me up.  I'd forgotten that part.  But I never forgot to shake down a thermometer after that.  Poor Miss Wilson with the red hair probably never forgot either."

Nursing school may have been free, but the student nurses more than paid for it.  "We started at seven every morning if we were on day shift and worked until seven that night.  After that came studying.  And we not only had to care for the patient but we had to clean up every room as well."

Her third, or last year, Regina was selected to go with a staff doctor to a private home and attend an operation.  "House calls were pretty common in those days but a house operation was relatively rare...It was so exciting to be going to someplace outside the school, but I was nervous.  The reason we were doing this operation was that the man lived far away and was quite rich, so he could afford the expense.

"The doctor I was going with, Dr. Levings, was one of the big staff men and I was so scared about the operation was that  all I could think of on the train was what steps I should do first, second, and third in an operation.  I thought about it so much I got everything scrambled and then I had to start again.  Dr. Levings gave me a newspaper to read on the train and all I could do was just look at it, the words made no sense.  All I could do was think about the operation.  I was so afraid I was going to make a mistake somewhere.

"When we go to the house, Dr. Levings looked at the man before operating and decided not to because his fingernails were turning blue and it was clear he was going to die.  I hate to say this, but I was relieved that we weren't going to operate because I was so afraid of making a mistake.

"We stayed until the man died and his relatives asked me to remain and take care of the funeral arrangements.  Dr. Levings thought it would be all right so he left me there.  but her forgot to tell the school so they spent several anxious hours before they found out where I was.  The school agreed to my staying there for a week but told me to get right back as soon as I could .  They needed me pretty badly and it felt nice to be needed.  But it was kind of a holiday being away from st. Joseph's and I enjoyed it."

Another fond memory at St. Joseph's was when one of her teachers congratulated her on a paper she wrote on the digestive system. "The doctor told me my paper was even better than the medical students.'  And it was.  But it really surprised me.  Compliments were rare and I was always surprised to receive them."

In the spring of 1916, Regina graduated from St. Joseph's School of Nursing.  She was named valedictorian of her class of around 30 students.

St. Joseph's School of Nursing graduation, 1916
Regina is center front

St. Joseph's School of Nursing graduation, 1916
Grace Bogenberger, Regina Werner, Mildred Ryan, Mildred Hehne

Director of St. Gabriel's School of Nursing, Little Falls, MN

In 1916, a state law was passed in Minnnesota that required that a registered nurse to be in attendance at all obstetrical and surgical cases.  This created a problem for St. Gabriel's Hospital in Little Falls, Minnesota because, although St. Gabriel's had been established in 1892 by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, (an order that by 1962 had founded 4 hospitals in Wisconsin, 7 in Minnesota, 9 grade schools, 4 homes for the aged, 2 nursing schools, 1 high school, a junior college, and several other educational institutions), there were no registered nurses at St. Gabriel's.  And a new very modern 50 bed hospital had just been built.  So Sister Mary Rose Ethier, Mother Superior of the Franciscan sisters travelled to Milwaukee and attended the 1916 St. Joseph's graduation where she askedSister Mary Alberta, St. Joseph's Director, to recommend the best new graduate of  St. Joseph's, one who could undertake the task of creating a nursing school at St. Gabriel's.  Sister Mary Alberta  recommended my grandmother.

Grandmother accepted the position but had one immediate hurdle to surmount.  She had to pass a  state Board nursing examination, and Wisconsin required that applicants be 21 years of age.  Regina was only 20.  Sister Regina (not to be confused with my grandmother), a Sister of St. Agnes, was on the St. Joseph's faculty and she advised my grandmother to fake her age.  Regina took the advice and aged a year, something she assured me when I interviewed her in 1973, she did not take lightly and never did anything like it again. 

Even at her artificially advanced age of 21, when Regina arrived in Little Falls on October 2, 1916, many of her students were older than she was.  "I was really afraid," she admitted, "I'd never been quite this far away and alone."  And because she was the only registered nurse at St. Gabriel's she was quite busy with just nursing duties at first.

In addition to overcoming  bureaucratic red tape, my grandmother had another unexpected battle after arriving in Little Falls, this one with a tapeworm.  "In the summer, right before I left for Minnesota, I had this creeping feeling...I went to see a doctor in Milwaukee and he gave me some pills but they didn't work because the creeping feeling would return right before a meal and go away right after I ate.  I always had to be sure to eat on time or I would become nauseous.

"Well the feeling didn't go away, so I consulted another doctor and he told me, 'You've got some type of worms,' gave me some medicine and it still didn't help.  So I waited until I got to Little Falls and saw another doctor there.  He told me that I had a tapeworm which was causing the creeping sensation, and had to get rid of it before I really got sick.

"He gave me a bottle of some vile medicine, told me to take half of it, then watch to make sure I passed the tapeworm--especially its head.  If I didn't get rid of the head, which is about as large as the end of a pin, the tapeworm could grow back and it would take me as long as six years to find out if it was still there.

"I went back to St. Gabriel's.  Told Sister Mary Theresa (superintendent of the hospital) that I couldn't be disturbed for the day, went to my room which was in the basement of the new hospital, shut the door and drank half the bottle.  I pulled up a large glass jar but nothing happened.  I had to go back and tell the druggist I needed a larger dose.  The second time I drank the whole bottle.  I was sitting on the jar next to my bed and I got sick to my stomach, threw up green all over my bed, and passed out on the floor.

"When I came to, the tapeworm was inside the jar, so with a tissue forceps, I lifted it out and placed a newspaper on my bed and spread the thing on it, back and forth and back and forth.  It was at least 20 feet long.  But what scared me was I couldn't find its head and I didn't want to wait another six years for the same thing to happen all over again.  I can tell you they were an anxious six years, when I had time to think about it.  I was so relieved, you just can't imagine how relieved, when the six years were up and there was no sign of the tape."

Regarding the lack of registered nurses at St. Gabriel's, Mother Mary Rose asked Regina to teach a class of Franciscan sisters who had been nurses in the old hospital, and prepare them to take the state board examination.  "Although most of them did not have a high school education, they did have a valuable foundation of the principles of nursing.  Under a temporary waiver of the strict nursing laws in Minnesota (which my grandmother engineered) all of the Sisters were allowed to take the state board examination and readily passed.  They all were excellent nurses, and now could fill responsible positions at the hospital."  In addition until the Sisters had passed the State Board, the Bishop of the diocese did not allow the nuns to witness or care for O.B. cases.  Their admission as RNs freed more of my grandmother's time for teaching  and administrative duties.

Sister Mary Theresa was the Hospital administrator, and part time anesthetist.  In those days chloroform or ether, or a combination of both were the only anesthetics used.  Sister Mary Coletta was the first and second floor supervisor and Sister Mary Bernard ws in charge of the laboratory and third floor.  Sister Loyola was the Operating Room supervisor. "Our janitor was a very able man, but at times would go off on a binge, just as steam was needed for sterilizers in the O.R.  Fortunately Sister [Mary] Theresa also knew how to operate the boiler."

The nursing students had no uniforms to begin with, so Regina designed them.  They were striped blue gingham with white collars, detachable cuffs, stiffly starched white aprons, and black stockings.  The caps were patterned after those of St. Joseph's School of Nursing, and were awarded in a capping ceremony after successful completion of a three month probationary period.  They were also awarded stiff white duffs and a bib for their aprons in the capping ceremony.

Red Cross Day at St. Gabriel's Hospital.
Dr. J.B. Holst with the nurses
Loretta Kujawa is the patient

Regina used the nursing program at St. Joseph's as the model for St. Gabriel's. The nurses' education consisted of three years of study and practice.  Nurses and probationers put on 12 hour shifts at the hospital.  "[The] duties of the students included, besides ordinary bedside care, the administration of hypodermics, hypodermolysis,  irrigation of the bladder and stomach, enteroclysis, rectal feedings, enemas, douches, hot and cold packs, poultices and plasters.  A treatment they liked to side step was the 'prolonged douche' which had to be continued for at least a half hour and required gallons and gallons of hot water.  .[note to my readers:  these words are taken verbatim are from my 37 year old transcription, when I was not as knowledgeable about medical terms]

"Besides the daily bath and oral hygiene, it was expected that the nurse also clean the patient's room.  Students were taught that the comfort of the patient was of greatest importance." Many of the student lectures were given in the evenings by the 12 doctors who had privileges at St. Gabriel's, each of whom selected a speciality and in addition to a series of lectures, tested the students on the subject matter. 
In addition to instructing her nursing students, Grandmother provided classes in elementary hygiene and nursing to the residents of Little Falls.  And, she had duty in the operating room, which sometimes went beyond  normal requirements.

"A Mrs. Corbin was scheduled for an appendectomy one afternoon, but when the two doctors who were to perform it arrived, I discovered, or rather one told me, he was unable to perform the operation and I had to do it.  Mrs. Corbin was already under anesthetic and all opened up.  You see, these doctors had taken an overdose of opium and that's why they couldn't operate.  One of them said, 'You take the scalpel, Miss Werner.  You can do a better job than I could anyhow.'

"I tell you, I never worried so much about one patient as I did Mrs. Corbin after that operation.  I used to come up and visit her two, three times a day."  It was my first and last appendectomy!"

Life at St. Gabriel's was not all work and no play.   "We had many happy hours together.  Picnics at the Sisters' farm, Halloween and Thanksgiving parties--and best of all the Christmas party.  Sharing gifts and a beautiful dinner helped to banish the nostalgia that creeps in on these special family days."

Nurses having a picnic on the Farm

"After two years, the hospital received the highest praise from the [Minnesota] State Board.  Many of our innovations were recommended to other hospitals."

Red Cross and St. Francis Nursing School, Breckenridge

In 1918, after war was declared, Regina decided it respond to the urgent call that went out to nurses in the United States, and signed up to join the Red Cross and go overseas.  The nursing school was running well and she felt comfortable leaving it in the hands of the Franciscans.  She returned to Milwaukee, where her mother was now living, and prepared to join the war effort, but by the time she was ready to go,  peace was declared on November 11.  Then the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 swept through Milwaukee and she was ill and then convalescent for several weeks. However, her brother Matt wanted to go to law school, and money was needed to help pay for this.  So Regina found a job as a health inspector in  the Milwaukee public schools.  She worked there for three months.  During this time she began receiving letter after letter  from the St. Francis School of Nursing in Breckenridge, MN.  They desperately needed a director of nursing and their Franciscan counterparts in Little Falls had been effusive in their praise for Miss Werner's administrative and teaching skills.  Although she was not eager to leave her family again, St. Francis made her an offer that she could not refuse.

"I asked for the phenomenal fee of $110 a month and they accepted.  That was with room, board and laundry too, so it was quite a lot of money in those days.  And of course anything I could give to Matt would help, so I accepted the position."

The St. Francis School of Nursing had been in operation since 1908, so Regina readily assumed the position as director and took up teaching again.  Things went smoothly except in one instance involving one of the doctors there.

"[Dr. Cross] and I became very good friends at Breckenridge.  He was always coming  and asking my advice. 'What do you think, Miss Werner?' he'd always ask.  But then something went wrong and he became mentally wrong.  He was a big huge man, a surgeon before this happened and one of my dearest friends.

"One day two doctors came to me and asked if they could keep Dr. Cross in the hospital overnight.  Mental patients aren't usually kept in ordinary hospitals but he was too uncontrollable at home and they needed a safe place for him temporarily and the doctors promised that they'd always have someone there watching him. I agreed, rather hesitantly, and they put him in a room several doors down the hall from mine.

"In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a terrific yell coming from that room.  I got up, put on my bathrobe, and went down the hall to investigate.  I opened the door and he was standing there stark naked with the moon shining on him.  He screamed, 'There she is!  There's Miss Werner!  I'll get her!' and started coming towards me.  I really was frightened half to death and started running down the hall with Dr. Cross right behind me.  I turned to go down the stairs and he was directly behind me.  I had my keys with me, remembered the night nurses' room was next door, unlocked the door and pulled it shut behind me.  He was trying to kill me because I had helped lance a boil on his finger that afternoon.  The two doctors finally showed up and put him in a straightjacket and they took him to a mental institution in North Dakota.  I was shaking that night, uncontrollably, and the next day."

Grandmother was being pursued by another man at this time, but this was in a romantic vein.  Dr. Claude Frederick Holst from Little Falls, started paying social calls on her when she moved to back to Minnesota, although Breckenridge was 140 miles distant. "Dr. Fred was 22 year older than I was and I suppose I looked upon him as a father figure.  But we had the best marriage you could ask for.  He never tried to order me around and was so patient and kind to me.  Everything worked out for the best."

However, their wedding was postponed by a natural disaster--a tornado.  "It was at suppertime.  We were all sitting down to dinner when word came that there had been a tornado near Fox Home (15 miles east of Breckenridge).  It had knocked a train off the tracks and there were a lot of people who had been hurt.  I grabbed a pillowcase and stuffed it full of a much medicine as I could and we left for Fox Home.

"When we got there we found the train lying sideways in a big pool of water and many, many people who needed medical assistance.  The railroad dispatched a special, I think they called it a 'Y' train, to get us out there and we brought the injured back in it.

"The next day after we'd brought the people back from the train, others from the surrounding countryside where the tornado had hit, began pouring in (to St. Francis).  All the sisters had to give up their beds and many of the injured were just lying on straw mattresses on the floor.  Things were so hectic.  Sister Mary Elizabeth, who was head of the hospital, begged me to stay until the crisis was over.  She told me, 'If you stay, we'll give you the nicest wedding breakfast.'  So I stayed and helped.

"At first we gave first aid, which was just hit and miss, to those who needed it most then we settled down to giving nursing care.  We had two little boys who came in with pieces of straw blown straight into their calves.  They said when the tornado struck, they got scared and crawled into a cold oven to hide.

"I worked for two straight days without changing my clothes and lost 20 pounds.  Dr. Fred came for the wedding, saw me, and said, 'You look terrible.'  He was all for taking me away right then but I'd promised Sister Mary Elizabeth so we waited until the crisis passed and then got married (June 19, 1920).  The wedding breakfast was, like she said, the nicest."

As Mrs. C.F. Holst, my grandmother gave up her nursing practice and became a full time mother with many outside interests.  She helped form the St. Gabriel's Hospital Women's Auxiliary which raised money for the hospital.  The nursing school continued until 1934 when the Depression shut it down, graduating 75 nurses.  It reopened in 1942 and stayed open until the late 1960's when it closed for good.  More than 600 nurses graduated from the school.

When Dr. Fred died in 1953, Regina moved to Salt Lake City and worked for the Latter Day Saints' Hospital from 1953-54 while my father was doing an internship there.  She then returned to Minnesota and worked for the Home for the Blind in Minneapolis until she came down with hepatitis and retired to Little Falls. 

Gaga died on December 31, 1981, after suffering a series of strokes over a period of several years.  Her life demonstrated to me that women could have careers and be successful, and I credit her example with propelling me through law school and beyond.  Her favorite motto, was "to teach is to learn twice."  She had high standards for her grandchildren, but only because she had them for herself.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CT scan results 10/29/10

Good news!  The tumors continue to be stable, and one in the left lower lobe continues to shrink:

CT Chest With Contrast

restage lung cancer


CTB C1 Chest CT

Region of interest: Chest

Type of scan: Single phase spiral

Superior Extent: Base of Neck

Inferior Extent: Through Adrenal glands

Reformats: Coronal

Automated exposure control and statistical iterative reconstruction techniques substantially lowered patient radiation dose.


Decrease 1.7 cm left lower lobe nodule, previously 2 cm, image 99:

Series 3.
Stable 8 mm ill-defined ground-glass opacity in the left lower lobe,

image 66: Series 3.
Stable 5 mm nodule at the left lung base on image 92: Series 3.

No new pulmonary nodules are present.

Stable aortopulmonary window nodal mass measuring 2 cm. No axillary or hilar adenopathy is present.

Mild coronary artery calcifications are present. Heart size is normal.
Partially visualized portion of the abdomen is normal.

Right-sided port catheter terminates in the lower SVC.

No suspicious lytic or blastic osseous lesions are present.

1. Decreased 1.7 cm left lower lobe nodule, previously 2 cm. Remaining pulmonary nodules are stable. No new nodules are present.

2. Stable aortopulmonary window nodal mass measuring 2 cm, decreased since 09/16/2009.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good thing the Vet is so close

Yesterday, Mr. Scooter ran across the street to bark at our neighbor who was mowing his grass and managed to get a toenail caught in something, and almost completely ripped it out.  Those toenails bleed like a son of a gun.  I could see the blood all over the road and when I picked him up it dripped all over my arm and hand.  Luckily, Lily, my every two weeks cleaning pro, was there and she got some paper towels and drove us the two blocks to the veterinarian who completed the toenail removal and bandaged him up.  Of course, by the time we were back home, Scooter managed to rip off the top part of the bandage.  Thank goodness for duct tape and for the Cone of Shame.  So, every time he needs to go outside, I have to put a baggy with rubber band over the whole mess and then he clumps down the deck to the backyard. 

His bandage should come off tomorrow, Friday.  Which is the same day I go in for my next CT scan.  This time with contrast.  So, fingers crossed that things continue to shrink or at least not growing.  If so, I will be back on Mon for my next chemo.  If not, then we will see. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

30 Years Ago Today


I got married.

It was one of those whirlwind courtships that come with youth and idealism.  I had just finally broken the last threads connecting me to my former Muslim medical school boyfriend in Brussels when he came to visit me in D.C. in late February.  Two weeks later I met Bob, a friend from college, for dinner after work in Dupont Circle at Vesuvios Pizza.  Bob was married and a matchmaker at heart.  He brought along another Macalester  alumnus to pizza, a guy named Jim.  Jim didn't remember me initially that evening, but I certainly remembered  him from college.

Jim was distinguished by a gold capped front tooth, giving him a bit of the air of a pirate when he smiled broadly.  He had lived in Kirk Hall the year that I was a resident assistant in that dorm.  He was an English major at the time with long hair, and was more, shall we say, laid back than I was attracted to, so we remained simply acquaintances for the remainder of my time at Mac.

However, when we re-met--7 years later--he had revved up both his career and his personality following graduation, obtaining a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Michigan and then moving to DC and  working as a staff economist (loosely speaking) on the Senate Labor Committee, which was headed up at the time, by Senator Harrison "Pete" Williams, soon to be infamous and convicted for his role in the Abscam bribery case.

The dinner was breezy and fun and Jim called me later that week to make a date.  He picked me up Friday evening (it was Good Friday) in his friend Andy's old Mercedes outside the Pentagon where I worked as the Special Assistant to the General Counsel, and we went to dinner at a fancy Asian restaurant.  We found that we had many things in common besides going to Macalester and one date grew into more.  Soon we were talking on the phone every day and night if we weren't going out.  Two or three weeks later, he proposed to me at the Tune Inn, a dive of a Capitol Hill bar that was popular with young Congressional staffers.  I accepted gladly, and then the real fun began.

My parents came to visit a month later and we announced our news.  They seemed  pleased (although, of course my mother had her reservations about the University of Michigan given that she was a Minnesota grad).  Next we flew to Ohio to tell Jim's parents:

I was Catholic at the time, so Jim agreed to do an Engaged Encounter weekend, which was required (or pre-Cana classes over several months) before you could be married in the Catholic Church.  We got through that ok, and then found out that the priest at the church I was attending in Old Town Alexandria, did not do 'mixed' marriages, even with the Engaged Encounter completed.  We went to plan "B" which was to hold the wedding in Lexington where my parents lived.  In the meantime, I had gotten very busy with my job, so it seemed an ideal solution, particularly as my mother, who had done another wedding at her house for my next oldest sister, seemed to be an old pro at this sort of thing.  We initially set the date for October 18 but my youngest sister had a dressage/jumping event that weekend, and we agreed to move it to October 25.

I flew home the Tuesday before the wedding. My first clue that I was no longer on the east coast was the bright blue "Reagan Bush" yard sign in my parents' front lawn.  When I protested to my father, he responded that he was simply trying to let the neighbors know what kind of bush he had in the front lawn. Of course, this is the same father who voted party over religion when he and Mom voted for Nixon in 1960 and were staunch Goldwater supporters in 1964, so I knew my leg was being pulled to the point of dislocation. Both Jim and I worked for the Democrats, and most of our friends who were coming from out of town to attend our wedding were Democrats as well.  Finally Dad agreed to pull the sign out and store it in the garage on our wedding day.

We had arranged to go to the Keeneland thoroughbred races that Thursday and had set our DC friends up to stay with friends in Lexington, to help make a longer trip affordable.  It was a beautiful fall day and such a treat to attend the races with a large group of friends, intent on having a good time, even if none of us cashed many tickets.  Friday night was the modified bachelors' party--all of us went to the gay nightclub in town to drink and dance. I left early, mindful that I had to get up  the next day, but Jim stayed to the bitter end and at some point danced with some one's purse.  He was rather the worse for wear the next day.  And the best man was late to the formal picture taking before the wedding.  So you won't see Jud in the formal, wedding party picture:              

I got up way too soon on Saturday, so I could have my hair done professionally for the big day.  I had a hairdresser who had done a nice job cutting my hair when I was a law student so I returned to Steve for the haircut of my life, but for whatever reason, he botched the job, giving me bangs when I really did not ask for them.  I came home and tried to comb my 'don't' into something presentable, but it was not very attractive and showed in most of the pictures. 

My wedding dress however was another story.  It was made by a young dressmaker just getting started in Crystal City outside DC,  named Hannelore.  She charged me $211 to make the off white silk gown from a pattern I brought to her.  I understand that she eventually specialized in wedding dresses and  is much more expensive these days. Her workmanship was exquisite and the dress was a real pleasure to wear (the shoes were not. I had to change into flats to make it through the reception.)  How was I ever this skinny?

Jim's father was a Presbyterian minister, so we worked with the priest at the Newman Center to make sure Leonard was included in the service. He gave the sermon, which consisted of finding various pieces of colored paper stored in his pockets that had advice for us newlyweds to help us through the years.*  What we were not prepared for is during the priest's recitation of the standard vows was that he asked Jim if he would agree that the children born of our union would be brought up Catholic.  That had not been discussed with us prior to our wedding and I held my breath, but Jim, a trooper at the time, gave the correct answer and we sailed through that part.

Beth and Carol playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire

The bagpiper is one of Jim's roommates from college, Tad, who from what Jim told me, liked to ingest lots of garlic in some misbegotten health scheme which made their dorm suite in Kirk quite odiferous, because Tad also liked to exercise on his bicycle in the common room of the suite. Tad loved bagpipes and practiced  at odd hours, using his chanter when he was indoors so as not to blow the other dorm residents out of their rooms. Tad  agreed to come to our wedding and play, but when he showed up in Lexington, he had forgotten his kilt. My mother loaned him her kilt and it fit Tad just perfectly.  He even used the fabric she had left over when she had it shortened, for the wrap around his shoulder.  I am sure that the Newman Center, where we were married on the campus of the University of Kentucky, had never had "Scotland the Brave" performed as a recessional before.

After the ceremony was over, we went back to my parents' house for the reception.  This being 1980, there was champagne and beer in abundance and the food was fabulous, having been prepared in my folks'  kitchen by Lexington's best caterer:

What we completely forgot, was that some people, might not drink alcohol at all.  Those folks being Jim's parents.  Oops.

Then there was the reception line.  Both mothers were in it as were me, Jim, my youngest sister who was the maid of honor, and maybe the best man, but maybe not.  Things went swimmingly at first:

However, as we were greeting folks who were coming through the front door, friends of my parents from Defiance, OH, Bill and Betty Kirtley, were coming through the back door through garage.  Bill saw the "Reagan Bush" sign and, on his own, decided that it needed to be paraded through our reception:

My mother was the first to seen the approaching lawn sign of doom, while the rest of us were preoccupied:

She recovered quickly.  But then, Jim and his mother saw it:

Things could have gotten ugly, but my father waded into the fray, caught up to Bill and tried to tell a few jokes, repeating the lawn sign one to smooth ruffled feathers.  Dad did manage to get the sign out of Bill's hands and back into the garage where it stayed for the rest of the reception**:

And eventually we all got to leave the reception line and get a drink and things got better.

Another interesting conflict that developed during the wedding, was that as Jim and I had been living on our own for a number of years, we didn't think that we needed all the traditional wedding gifts that friends and family showered upon you, and we wanted whatever money our friends would spend on those gifts to go to a cause that was near and dear to our hearts:  Macalester College and minority scholarships.  Several of our friends there had been African American and my current boss was African American, so it made perfect sense to us.  I thought I might get an official imprimatur of approval for our idea if I wrote to Miss Manners at the Washington Post.
Miss Manners responded in a column published in the Washington Post in the spring of 1980:
Yours is the most altruistic of the many letters Miss Manners receives from people who want to have some control over the selection of present they expect. Others ask 'How can I let them know I want money instead of some crummy toaster?' or "Instead of each giving us silver we won't use, why can't our friends get together and pay our mortgage?" Then there are the people who either sympathize with their friends' problems of buying present or profound distrust their taste, and want to say, "No gifts please" on their invitations.

What Miss Manners must tell all of you, regardless of your motives, is that there is no tasteful way--not even any moderately decent way--of directing present-giving, when you are on the receiving end.

Contrary to general belief, present-giving is never required. It is traditionally associated with birthdays, Christmas and weddings, but cannot be used as an entrance fee to related festivities. You must pretend that you invite people because you want to celebrate important occasions with them and you must seem pleasantly surprised when they give you something. To act as if it is such standard payment that you can acknowledge your expectations is rude-rude-rude.

Perhaps what has confused you is the business gimmick of the bridal registry, by which engaged couples inform stores of their tastes in the hope that their friends will come in, get this information and act on it.

There is just enough distance between the giver and the receiver to make this a passable practice. The bride and bridegroom do not actually instruct their friends--they only tell their preference to a neutral business establishment. And the present-givers only receive information if they ask for it.

Another practice that has confused you is that of bereaved families who ask that "contributions" be made to a charity instead of flowers being sent to them or the funeral. This is also a borderline case, most practical when there are huge numbers of mourners and it is known that there will be more than enough flowers (Notice to florists: Miss Manners adores flowers, and believe that they are an important symbolic part of a funeral, but too many of them, sent to the bereaved family's house, can be oppressive.

However, we were talking about weddings, not funerals, and the charitable donation idea is appropriate to the latter, not the former. Your wedding guests should not have to "memorialize" you with a charitable contribution in your name. If they want to remember you charitably, they can invite you to dinner.

So the answer is no. Miss Manners knows you mean well but you must take what people decide to give you looking grateful that they went to the trouble to get you anything at all. And then you can exchange it.
Reading Miss Manners today, I can see that she gave me excellent advice.  But back in 1980, it was not theadvice I wanted to hear.  So, I simply disregarded it, and hand wrote notes which I inserted in every wedding invitation that we sent out--over 200 of them.  My mother was horrified.  That was not the way you did things, neither when she got married, nor in 1980. So Mom engaged in a bit of guerrilla warfare herself,  and without my knowledge, set up the traditional wedding gift table in the back bedroom, just in case any of her friends didn't want to give to the minority scholarship program at Macalester.  Just like the Reagan Bush sign, I discovered the gifts table when I came home, but unlike the yard sign, I was not get it removed.  So it stood during the wedding as a symbol of the clash between traditional bridal mores and my rash assault upon them:

Mom: 1,  Me: 0.  But Macalester did receive $1005 from friends gracious enough to overlook my very bad manners.  It was a lot of money back in the day, and both Jim and I were very thankful. 

As the reception was winding down, we discovered that many of our friends didn't have plans for the evening.  Utterly on the spur of the moment, we called a restaurant in the Tates Creek shopping area to see if their private dining room on the second floor was available.  It was, so the party spilled over to there and eventually to their second private dining room. At that point, I was drinking bloody marys and the festivities became very loud and boisterous--with many jokes being told by those at the table.  In the second room there was a large joke that had to do with the Arch in St. Louis, but in the dining room I was in, the only joke that I clearly remember from that night was one told by Jack Edwards, a Macalester classmate (who I just learned passed away this past March--gads!).  Jack, although he grew up in Louisville, had a store of Sven and Ole jokes from his time in Minnesota and he spun them out that night, one after the other.  The one I remember was about Sven and Lena, his wife.  Lena was feeling poorly it seems, and Sven took her to the doctor to be looked at.  The doctor examined Lena and came out to Sven,  and said, "Sven, I'm afraid Lena has acute angina."  "Oh, dat's ok, doc," said Sven.  "I know dat already.  I peeked!" 

October 25, 1980 also marked the last day I ever smoked a cigarette.  I gave up smoking as my wedding gift to Jim.  But, of course, I tried to smoke all that I had left that day.  This just made the next morning, getting up for an early flight to DC and then on to St. Thomas for our honeymoon, that much more enjoyable.  Not.  I barely made it off the plane in DC and to the bathroom before I gave back my breakfast and part of my supper from the night before.  Luckily our friend, Karen, was on the same flight back so she shepherded me to and from the women's room, while Jim waited outside, a reversal of roles from the day before.  Giving up smoking meant quitting a habit I had developed for 9 years.  I say, with 20/20 hindsight, that I would not have quit that way again, because our honeymoon turned out to the one from hell.   But that is a story for another thread.

So, Happy Anniversary to me.  Glad I quit smoking 30 years ago.  Should never have started, but coulda woulda shoulda.


*Four years after we married, Jim's parents divorced after 39 years of marriage.

**Unfortunately for Bill Kirtley, we had a fairly bad recession Reagan's first two years in office.  Bad enough that it closed Bill's business in Defiance. 

I guess that's those are some illustrations of the law of unintended consequences.

Update October 26, 2010.  I was at  Metropolitan Markets tonight picking up a coupon special.  And who should I meet there but my former husband.  Who looked directly at me as one would a constituent, but did not register that this person smiling at him was his former wife with chemo shortened hair.  Almost 19 years of marriage, and he did not recognize me.  It will be interesting to sit with him at Sarah's award ceremony next Friday.