Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our Trip to Duluth

Once again, I apologize for the length of this post. I could write a much more succinct rundown of these events, but I've been told to document these facts for future reference. This will all be explained in part 3.

Thursday: After Dad got loaded on the helicopter, I took Mom home and headed to the restaurant to talk to BS(Boss's son). Boss had left that afternoon on a 5-day vacation to Reno. There was nobody to replace me on Friday, but I was hoping he could figure a way to replace me on Saturday. The girl who works the evening shift said she'd work Saturday, so I was set to go after work on Friday.

Then I ran home, grabbed a suitcase for Mom(I didn't have time to try to find Mom's luggage in their garage attic), explained the situation to Z, and fed Shadow. I took Shadow and the suitcase over to my parent's house and gave Shadow her monthly heartworm meds. I explained to Mom that we would head for Duluth when I got off work at 1 p.m. on Friday. Mom kept insisting that she had to go to the bank to cash bonds for Dad's helicopter ride. ARRGHHH!!

I then ran back to town to pick up some pop for the trip and a box of wine for Mom. I hoped that the wine would settle Mom down for the night when we returned to the motel. The rest of the evening passed in a blur as I made motel reservations(not an easy thing to do in Duluth with less than 24 hrs notice on a weekend), packed, showered, and called SME, my cousin J, and a couple of close family friends who have been involved in this mess. Mom called me 4 times between 10:30 and midnight to tell me that Dad had called her from the hospital in Duluth. I later learned that she'd also called our close family friend, Sandy, twice during this time.

Friday: Mom called me twice during the night, looking for Dad. I got less than 4 hours of sleep before I went to work.

Mom called me twice at work telling me that Dad had called. Dad told Mom that we couldn't come to Duluth and that the ENTIRE hospital staff was picking on him. Dad called me immediately after each of Mom's calls. He was sobbing and insisting that we couldn't possibly come to was too dangerous. For some reason Dad didn't think it was safe for me to drive in downtown Duluth, even though I've been driving there since I was 19. He also insisted that something terrible would happen to Mom and I if we stayed in a downtown motel. He even threatened to cancel our reservations. I finally told Dad to put his oxygen mask back on and get some rest. "We're coming and that's FINAL! I know exactly where you are. I've been there with Z for his neurologist appointments. I even know which parking lot will fit our truck. If I don't bring Mom to see you, she'll take off walking to Duluth in the middle of the night."

During one of her calls Mom asked me if SME and M(my Dad's name) were alright...
Me: "It's SME and Doug, Mom."
Mom: "No it's not! It's SME and M! I have it written right here!"

While I was at work, Mom called our house 4 times. Twice looking for Dad and twice asking Z when I was coming to get her. She also called our friend Sandy. Sandy called me at work and asked if she should go stay with Mom until I got there. BLESS HER HEART!! Sandy later told me that she had no idea my Mom's dementia was that bad until she spent that morning with her.

Thankfully my replacement came to work early! I was able to go home and gather my thoughts while L loaded my luggage in the truck. I also called SME. She and Doug had said that SME would come down and help us if we needed her. I didn't know how long Dad would be in Duluth and I knew that it was too dangerous leaving Mom home alone. I asked SME to check on the fastest way to get here and be ready to come at a moment's notice.

Sandy had managed to calm my Mom down by the time I got to my parent's house. I told my Mom that I would take her to Duluth with ONE condition...."I'm in charge. I've handled all the arrangements. You just worry about taking care of Dad. I'll handle everything else for you." Mom immediately bristled at this(she and my Dad are HUGE control freaks). Sandy put her arm around Mom and said: "Let TSHS do this for you. It's the only thing that makes sense. You just worry about you and M. Let TSHS handle the details." Mom agreed and thanked me.

I told Mom to stay in the house with the dog while I loaded her luggage. Sandy helped me. When we turned around, there was Mom, putting her jacket and purse INTO SANDY'S CAR! Sandy later told me that she knew I was in trouble when Mom hadn't even followed the first request I'd asked of her. I got Mom in my truck, where she started looking for her purse, then I retrieved her purse and jacket from Sandy's car. I checked the house to make sure everything was turned off, locked up the house, and brought Shadow to the truck, while Sandy stayed with Mom. We dropped Shadow and her food dish off at our house and we were on our way.

We arrived at the hospital at 4:30. When we reached the Cardiac ICU, Mom ran to my Dad while I talked with the nurses. They were getting ready to move Dad down to the regular Cardiac Unit of the hospital, but they were waiting for us to arrive first. They had given Dad an ultrasound and a cat-scan(both tests could have been done at home), and they still weren't sure if Dad had had a heart attack or not. They were giving him IV heart meds and insulin, which seemed to be working. He had been eating solid food since Thursday night and his blood sugar was slowly coming down from the alarming 399 level. Dad always maintains his blood sugar between 110-120.

When I went to Dad's cubicle he was telling Mom the most bizarre stories of his stay in the ICU....
The EMTs abused him on his helicopter flight.

Thursday night the doctor said he could use the phone at 8:00 p.m. Dad noticed that the clock in his room was off by 3 minutes. ( I don't know how Dad supposedly knew this since he didn't have a watch.) The "dirty bastards" set the 2 ft diameter, battery-operated wall clock back half an hour so Dad would miss making his phone call. They then magically set the clock back to its original time, including the 3 minutes off. They did all this clock setting while Dad was sitting in a chair, 2 ft from the clock, and Dad didn't see them do it. At this point Dad apparently pitched a fit so they let him call home.

While Dad was being interviewed by the cardiologist on Thursday night, a large, rare moth(I can't remember what kind of moth Dad said it was) was fluttering by his divider curtains. Dad pointed the moth out to the doctor, who didn't see a moth. The moth eventually landed on Dad's big toe...right next to the doctor....who still didn't see a moth. The doctor wrote "delusional" on Dad's chart, which really set my Dad off. This was the beginning of the grand conspiracy against my Dad by the evil, "asshole/son-of-a-bitch" cardiologist, who wouldn't look my Dad in the eye or believe a word he said. Alrighty then...

All Thursday night, 10 "secretaries" (Dad kept calling the nurses secretaries or waittresses until Monday) loudly played cards at a table in the nurse's station. The game involved some sort of board on the table. The winner perched on the board and looked at everybody's cards when they won a hand. The "secretaries" also put bright lights with "wavery" beams on the table. These lights shone in Dad's eyes all night. The "secretaries" also burned some spaghetti sauce they were making during their card game. When Dad would push his call button the "secretaries" would say "Ignore it. It's just that crazy cracker from up-north." Keep in mind that Dad, supposedly, saw and heard all of this without his glasses or hearing aids, which were in my Mom's purse the entire time.

Dad got his dinner tray at 6:00 and we were told that they'd move him to the 6th floor after his dinner. At 6:30, Dad told us to go check into our motel and get something to eat. We told him that we'd see him in the morning and left for the motel. The nurse gave us his 6th floor room number and said that we could visit for as long as the hospital doors were unlocked, which was 7:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. on weekends.

I left Mom in the motel room while I unloaded our luggage. By the time I returned to the room, Mom had unpacked EVERY item she had and spread her stuff onto both beds, both chairs, and the table. She then carefully re-packed everything. She wound up doing this EVERY time we returned to our motel room. SME said that this act must have been something that gave Mom comfort, as it was something she could control.

After Mom re-packed, we went out for a pizza. We returned to the room at 8:15. The message light on the phone was flashing. The front desk said that the hospital had called and gave me a number. I tried calling the number, but it was no longer in service. Within 15 minutes the phone rang. It was Dad, sobbing and raging about us "disappearing".
Dad: "Where the hell have you been? I've had hospital security and the police out looking for you!"
Me: "Umm, Dad..we checked into the motel and went out for dinner. It's only been 2 hrs since we left you."
Mom took the phone and calmed Dad down for the night.

Saturday: Mom tried to leave the room, in her nighty, twice during the night. The first time she was looking for Dad. The second time she said she was looking for the bathroom. She had already opened both security locks on the door. Since when does the bathroom have security locks? That was the end of me sleeping during our trip. Every time the sheets would rustle on Mom's bed, I was wide awake and ready to stop her from leaving the room.

By 7:15 a.m., Mom and I were dressed and had eaten our free continental breakfast in the motel's coffee room. Then Dad called:
Dad: "Where the HELL are you?"
Me: "We're just getting ready to come to the hospital."
Dad: "A lot of good that will do. Visiting hours are over in half an hour!"
Me: "They don't unlock the hospital doors until 7:30. We can stay until 8:00 p.m. Relax, we're on our way."

When we got to the hospital, Dad was confused, weepy, and belligerent. Mom sat on the edge of the bed and held his hand, which immediately calmed him down. He then demanded that I go to the window and look at the Duluth hillside.
Dad: "Do you see those helicopter rotors sticking up beside that white house?"
Me: ""
Dad: "There was a fiery helicopter crash there last night...right after a plane crashed into the hillside. I'll bet the helicopter was sent to rescue the plane, but the helicopter crashed too."
Me: "Dad, there's no crash site out there."
Dad: "Now YOU think I'm crazy too, just like that god damned doctor! Where the hell have you been? It's been all over the TV news this morning!"
Me: "You don't have a TV in this room, Dad."
Dad: "I read it in the paper too!"
Me: "Show me the paper. You were having one of your nightmares Dad. There wasn't a crash."

Mom told Dad that she believed him, which settled him down for awhile. I took Mom aside and told her that she wasn't doing Dad any favors by agreeing with his delusions. She disagreed...until this happened...

Shortly after Dad calmed down about the helicopter/airplane crash, he started chewing us out for "disappearing" the previous night:
Dad: "Where the HELL were you last night?"
Me: "We checked into the motel and went out for a pizza."
Dad: "I saw you two right over there at the nurse's station last night...then you disappeared. Hospital security searched the entire hospital and couldn't find you. Then we called 911 and the police couldn't find you either!"
Mom: "We didn't come back to the hospital last night after you were moved to this floor. This is the first time we've been on the 6th floor."
Dad later said that 911 wouldn't work on his phone and that the nurses couldn't call 911 either, so I don't know how the police were out looking for us. Dad was in a rage about the nurses not being able to call 911. What if there was a fire? I'm positive that the nurses only told Dad that they couldn't call 911 because they knew he was being delusional. Either that or it was all part of the same dream.

My Dad has been having horrible, realistic nightmares for the last several years. The doctors think the nightmares are caused by one of his meds, maybe even his insulin. The doctors thought that it was a nightmare that knocked my Dad's heart out of rhythm on Wednesday night. When the doctor made rounds on Saturday morning, I asked him why Dad was now believing that his nightmares were reality. The doctor thought it could be the residual anesthetic and pain meds that were still in my Dad's body from his surgery on Monday. It could also be from the new heart meds they were giving Dad. Time would tell.

Dad got his catheter removed. His blood sugar was only about 50 points too high all day. He was seen by a General Practioner and a Surgeon during doctor's rounds. They both said he was recovering well from his surgery. Even though Dad was in the Cardiac Unit, he was never seen by a cardiologist over the weekend.

By noon, Dad had regained his lucidity and was joking around with us. He still believed that all his dreams had been real though. Dad had been eating solid food for 2 days and now needed to defecate regularly...this was a good sign. The bad news was that the hospital was so understaffed that there were no nurses available to help him. "Shit duty" became the responsibility of Mom and I for the rest of Dad's stay. Dad SHOULD have been up and walking too, but the hospital rules required 2 nurses to take him for a walk. Mom and I weren't allowed to take him out of the room without the nurses, so no walking for Dad.

Sunday: Mom only tried to leave the motel room once during the night.
When we got to the hospital, Dad had us pull his curtain and whispered his desperate "plan" to us. We were supposed to immediately go to the newspaper and report the abuse he'd been enduring. THEN, we needed to call Geraldo! That's the ONLY way he was EVER going to get out of the hospital. WTF? Dad HATES Geraldo! Dad insisted that the nurses had kept him up ALL night by poking unneccesary IV needles into his arms and hands. He then grabbed his IV tree and shook it, saying: "There's NO reason for all this shit! They only keep me on IVs to torture me. That god damned sneaky bastard doctor is behind all this! Look at that; EIGHT IV bags; that's BULLSHIT!!"

In reality, there were only 4 IV bags, connected to 2 needles in his shoulder. At one point, Dad had had 6 IV bags going into 4 needles in his hands and forearms, 2 in each arm. Dad had been fighting the IVs from the start and had broken several needles that needed to be re-inserted. They also had trouble finding his veins, and had made several attempts that hadn't worked. Dad's forearms and hands were a mess, with 30-some needle holes. It was very painful. During the doctor's rounds, we found out that Dad had developed a mild case of pneumonia. This is why they had to start another IV bag for antibiotics.

Dad's breakfast tray arrived at this time. Dad occassionally has an uncontrollable tremor in his right arm. Sunday morning his arm was shaking too badly for him to eat by himself, so I had to help Dad eat his breakfast. In the middle of breakfast, Dad looked around and said: "Where's your mother? You gotta go find Mom! She promised me she wouldn't leave the room without you!" I made a quick check of all the rooms on the Mom! When I went around the corner to the elevators, Mom was getting off the elevator with a nurse, who was guiding her back to the Cardiac Unit. Mom didn't know what floor or room number Dad was in. She only knew he was in the Cardiac Unit.
Me: "Where were you? Dad's worried sick about you."
Mom: "I can go for a walk anytime I want! You're not in charge of ME!"

When we got back to Dad's room, the doctors arrived on their rounds. The GP was an Indian(dot not feather, as Zombieslayer would say), who was accompanied by a surgeon. They both checked Dad's progress and said that he should be able to be released on Monday. We then decided that Mom and I would stay until Monday and bring Dad home with us. That would save us another round trip to Duluth.

When Dad's lunch tray arrived at noon, he whispered:
"A-ha, this all makes sense now. This is a MUSLIM hospital!"
Me: "What makes you think that?"
Dad: "You saw that MUSLIM doctor this morning. That's why the nurses won't bring me coffee when I ask for it in the morning."
Me: "Muslims drink coffee, Dad."
Dad: "Then why won't the nurses bring me coffee?"
Me: "Because they don't have time. Your coffee comes on your breakfast tray at 8:00."
Dad: "What about this food? It's all MUSLIM food!"
Me: "Dad, that's ground pork and gravy you're eating. Muslims don't eat pork."
Dad: "I still say this is a MUSLIM hospital. Be careful what you say. They're all spying on us! If we say the wrong thing, we'll all just disappear."

At this point, I said I needed to go out to the truck for a cigarette. Periodic trips to the truck during the weekend was the only thing that kept me from totally losing my grip. I'd sit in the truck with a can of pop and a cigarette and either listen to my music or call home. Z was my rock at this time. He HATES talking on the phone, but he would talk to me as long as I needed. L can't hear well enough to talk on the phone, so Z would fill him in on what was going on after I hung up. When I called this time, I told Z to call SME and give her my cell number. I don't have a long-distance card installed in our Tracfone, so I couldn't call SME, but she could still call me. With Mom's dementia and Dad's delusions, I knew they wouldn't be able to keep track of their meals and meds when they got home. I needed to know what SME had found out about coming home to help. I couldn't have my phone turned on in the Cardiac Unit, but I told Z to tell SME to keep trying. I would have the phone turned on when I wasn't in the hospital. SME finally reached me after we checked into the motel for the night. I filled her in on Mom and Dad's conditions. SME's travel agent said there would be no problem getting her a spur-of-the-moment flight home. SME would now wait by the phone for my call for help. God, I LOVE my family!!

Stay tuned for Part 3: Home Sweet Home

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Where I've Been

Feel free to skip this post; it will most likely be long-winded and disjointed. I'm only writing it for therapy for me and because Family Services says I need to document all the craziness. If the facts are written on my blog, I'm not likely to misplace them.

The past 2 weeks have been like a nightmare that I can't escape from! My life feels surreal, like I'm frozen in some bizarre time-warp. As you all know, my Dad had colon cancer surgery on Monday, May 11th. I guess the best way to tell this tale is to go day-by-day.

Monday: I took the day off so my Mom wouldn't be alone at the hospital. I took my parents to the hospital in their car at 7 a.m. Dad went into surgery at 10:30 a.m. Mom spent the entire 3 hours of the surgery sobbing and muttering:"He's my life. I can't live without him." Nothing I did would console her.

The surgery was a success, but we still don't know if Dad will need chemo.

Tuesday: My day began at 1:30 a.m., when Mom called me in a panic. She couldn't find my Dad. That effectively killed sleeping for me for the rest of the night. I didn't know if I should go to their house and spend the rest of the night with Mom, or just hope that she'd settle down and sleep the rest of the night.

The plan for Dad's post-op stay in the hospital was for L to pick up Mom and their dog at 7 a.m. He would take Mom to the hospital and bring the dog to our house. After work, I would spend a couple of hours at the hospital, run errands for me and my parents, pick Mom up at the hospital and bring her over to our house for dinner. After dinner, I would take Mom and Shadow home and make sure they got into the house safely.

Mom INSISTED on driving herself, and my Dad had no problem with that! Mom has undiagnosed Alzheimers (Dad's in denial). Dad has been doing ALL the driving and cooking for the past 2 years. While riding with me, Mom admitted that she couldn't remember where the liquor store was. She then insisted that a beauty parlor was the liquor store. The beauty parlor actually had been a liquor store....30 years ago!! We were terrified that Mom would take a wrong turn on her way to the hospital and keep driving 'til she ran out of gas.

Dad was still a bit confused from the anesthetic and pain killers.

Wednesday: Mom called me twice during the night looking for Dad.

At noon, I looked out the window at work and saw their car parked across the street and Mom staring at the restaurant with a panic-stricken look on her face. Now what?! When I went out to the car, Mom said she couldn't start the car.
Me: "You have to put the car in park."
Mom: "It IS in park!"
I reached across her and shifted the car into park. Mom immediately turned the key and said: "It must have sat long enough to start again."

I got Mom into the restaurant where she started crying and telling everyone what terrible shape my Dad was in. Boss told me to sit down with her and calm her down. When I started questioning Mom, I found out that they had removed Dad's stomach tube, taken him for 2 walks, and let him have a shower. I told Mom that that sounded like a lot of PROGRESS to me.
Mom: "But he's in so much pain!"
Me: "You've had abdominal surgery. You know there will be a lot of pain."
Mom: "I can't stand seeing him suffer!"
Me: "It wasn't easy for Dad to see you in pain when you had surgery. You have to be brave for Dad."
I tried to convince Mom to wait until my shift ended so I could drive her back to the hospital, but no deal.

Later, when I arrived at the hospital, I found the halls plastered with signs with my Dad's name and arrows pointing the way to his room. The nurses were on to Mom's dementia and asked me if there was any way I could keep her from driving. I told them that we had planned on driving Mom everywhere, but our plans had been thwarted. "Your Dad's been covering up for her, hasn't he?" Yup! "We see this happen all the time."

Dad was feeling a lot better, and had quit using his morphine drip. He was a bit confrontational with one of the nurses. He wanted to walk faster than his IV tubes would allow.

Thursday: Mom only called me once during the night. Before she could ask me where Dad was, she realized where he was. She apologized for waking me.

When I arrived at the hospital, Dad was wearing an oxygen mask. The nurse said that he'd had an "episode" with his heart during the night. He'd had a nightmare that knocked his heart out of rhythm. They'd given him a cat-scan, but they still didn't know if he'd had a heart attack or not. They put him on oxygen and heart meds, which returned his heart rhythm to normal. Why hadn't anyone, including my Mom, called me?

D, the hospital's Social Services Director, popped in to visit with us. At the end of her visit, she said that she'd like to discuss a few things with me. Unfortunately, my Mom followed us out of the room too. D took us to a small conference room where she explained Dad's condition and conversationally asked my Mom some questions:
D: "I hear your husband has been doing all the cooking for a couple of years."
Mom: "Yes. He loves to cook."
D: "And how old are you?" Mom tried several times, but never managed to come up with her correct age. At this point, I managed to get rid of Mom by telling her that Dad was probably out of ice chips.

D: "I'll bet you've been trying to get your Dad to have your Mom tested for Alzheimers, but he insists on covering up for her."
Me: "Exactly!"
D: "This is classic behavior. You're an only child and you're trying not to completely alienate your parents by insisting on a test, aren't you?"
Me: "That's the story. Friends and relatives have been noticing the change in Mom, but there's nothing any of us can do short of physically dragging her to the doctor."
D: "Would you like me to have a talk with your Dad in private tomorrow? I'll tell him that the nurses and I discovered the symptoms in your Mom. That way they can't hold any of this against you."
Me: "That would be the BEST possible solution. THANK YOU!!"

Shortly after I returned to Dad's room we got a visit from the on-call doctor, whom my parents hate. She said that the cardiologist in Duluth had looked at Dad's cat-scan and wanted to run some more tests on him. Our hospital doesn't have the equipment necessary for the tests or a cardiologist. They would have to Life-Flight my Dad to Duluth by helicopter, as they didn't have an available nurse to accompany him by ambulance. Dad wanted me to drive him, but I explained that he needed oxygen and IVs that I couldn't transport. We finally convinced my parents that Dad needed to transfer to Duluth to have those tests.

As soon as we were alone, Dad sat up, removed his oxygen mask, and tried to pull out his IV needles.
Me: "WHAT are you doing?"
Dad: "I have to go home and get ready to go to Duluth!"
Me: "Lay down. The nurses will get you ready. The helicopter picks you up HERE."
Dad: "I have to go home to get money to pay for the Life-Flight!"
Me: "We'll worry about that later. I'm sure your insurance will cover it."

Fortunately, Dad's nurse and D came into the room. The nurse settled Dad down, and D went to see if Dad's insurance covered the did. Within an hour, Dad was on his way to Duluth. The nurse gave me a piece of paper with Dad's cardiac ICU bed number in Duluth. D met me in the hall and gave me her card. She said to call her when Dad gets home and let her know when his next doctor appointment was. She would meet Dad at the doctor's office and explain Mom's condition to him. D also told me to feel free to call her anytime if I needed a shoulder to cry on. What an ANGEL!

By this time Mom was so upset that I easily convinced her to let me drive her home and leave their car at the hospital. I FINALLY got the car away from her!

Next episode: Our trip to Duluth

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Good Morning?

THIS is the scene that greeted me this morning. That's right, SNOW!

The frost in our yard has only gone down about a foot, so our yard is still sloppy and muddy. It has rained several times in the past 2 weeks, which only adds to the slop. The forecast for the next week calls for highs in the 50s...not enough to knock the frost out of the ground.

We finally got sick of our cable company's haphazard internet service and shoddy tv reception. We're now in the process of switching everything over to our phone company. They hooked up our DSL a week and a half ago.

We found out that free installation is worth exactly that...nothing! All the technician did was hook filters to our 2 phone lines and plugged in the wireless modem. Nothing worked after the technician left except the phones, which are static-filled. It took L and Z a week to get us running. The tech hadn't even left the codes to access our account! Our DSL is only running at 10% of what it should be. We're wondering if our 23-yr-old interior phone lines are to blame.

This week I bought new, heavier phone line to replace our old lines. L and Z were going to crawl under the house and replace the line today. L came down with stomach flu yesterday, so I suppose Z and I will now be crawling under the house. If the new phone line doesn't improve our service we'll start raising hell with the phone company.

We're still waiting for the satellite tv installer to show up. I can't wait to see what kind of screw-ups that will involve! IF we ever get the whole system up and running we'll be saving $50/month for the next 6 months, and $20/month for the following 18 months. With this package we'll be getting free, unlimited nationwide long-distance, caller ID, and call-waiting(which I don't want). We also got a free mini laptop out of the deal....SWEET!

Naturally, my kitchen painting project is going slower than I expected. It took me all last week to complete the south wall, which is pictured above. It takes 3 coats of primer to cover the pattern on the printed paneling, plus 2 coats of paint! The paint was supposed to be a deeper shade of gold, but we're still happy with the results. I only have one coat of paint left to apply to the north wall, then I'm on to the east, and final wall. The east wall contains our fridge and stove, so we'll be doing a LOT of appliance moving during this phase.

I've had several interruptions in my painting project. One evening I spent at a meeting that layed out our options for water-line replacement. I'll post more on this later.
Last week we had an overnight visit from a very close friend. This week my beloved cousin, who recently lost her husband, drove 6 hours for an overnight visit. Both of these visitors wanted to see my Dad before he has surgery on Monday.

I have no doubt that the surgery will cure my Dad's colon cancer. We're all worried about Dad surviving the surgery itself. My Dad is almost 80, and a diabetic. He's also been weakened by the treatment for his prostate cancer.

My Mom's dementia has worsened in the past 2 weeks. We're certain that this is caused by the stress of Dad's upcoming surgery. We don't want Mom driving alone, so L and I have planned out a schedule for getting her to the hospital to be with my Dad during the week he has to spend in the hospital. L will take Mom to the hospital in the morning and bring their dog to our house. I'll pick Mom up and feed her dinner at our house, then I'll take her and the dog home. We've had to explain this plan to Mom EVERY day for the past 2 weeks! I'm hoping that we'll be able to pull off our plan without confiscating her keys.

Oops..gotta run...the dish installer just called. He'll be here in 30 minutes. I'll keep you posted...

UPDATE: We just had the 2 sweetest guys install our satellite service! One guy played tug-of-war with Hairry, and the other took pictures of the snow to show his kids in Tucson. They explained, in detail, how to take down the dish when we re-side the house. They also got us free HBO and Starz for 3 months, even though it wasn't part of the package we'd signed up for! When I mentioned that we were running new phone lines under the house, they said to run lines to the converter boxes and we'll save $10/month off our dish bill. No problem!