What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

John Parks-Coleman

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

John Parks-Coleman
toast-2675_640I know I may come off as having issues, but trust me, I don't...I have the whole subscription!

Let me catch you up on what has been going on in the world of Yvonne, John, and Bonz.  Before I do, I need to give a "thank you" to my friends, James and Carl, for watching our home and keeping me connected via proxy.  They are not Caregivers, but they know someone who is. :-)  Plus, they'll do anything for a home cooked meal which I've gladly given (apple-wood smoked ribs, potatoes, and everyone's favorite, tiramisu).

OK, on with it already, John.




We've been having some troubles, dentally speaking, since early in December.  Layer that with a creamy glaze of a serious fall, and bake on 350 for a period of not understanding how hard things can be, at times, and finding ways of dealing with it.  That IS what we do, as Caregivers. We find ways of dealing with it.

So, where to begin...at the beginning, I suppose.

Thanksgiving came and went.  A visit to Advanced Pain Care took place, and we both got a little bit of relief from pain in various places.  I found out, the hard way, that Yvonne can be a little aggressive (unintentionally) when I follow a suggestion from a doctor to rearrange her order of medications.  I got her back on track, and she is emotionally stable.  Then I got a visit from Murphy.  You know Murphy, everyone knows Murphy...Murphy's Law.  If it can go wrong, it will.

A year and a half ago, Yvonne had some implants put into her lower jaw bone.  The implants are locater pieces for her denture.  If I haven't told you, she lost most of her teeth due to a mortar blast in Desert Storm and we were able to get custom dentures made that resemble her teeth, exactly.  So, for quite some times, dentally speaking, things were moving along nicely.  Then, early in December, Murphy visited us.

One of Yvonne's favorite meals is pork chops.  She prefers them fried and I do that for her on occasion.  Most of the time, I bake them with a bit of Slap Ya Mama brand seasoning (her favorite).  I make sure to wrap them in aluminum foil in order to keep them tender, and easy to eat.  Yvonne convinced me to fry her pork chops on this particular evening and I complied.  I made sure they were still nice and tender.  When she was ready to eat, she took one bite, and Murphy struck (he is so sneaky!).  Her lower broke in half, right between the locators.  Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big problem--just bring her down the street to our dentist and get them relined.  Murphy made sure that it wasn't going to be that easy for us.

As with anything that would normally be easy to fix, this happened on a Friday evening, and to make matters worse, the day before, I got a call that our favorite dentist was retiring.  He assured us that his replacement was good to go and he had every confidence that the new dentist would be able to handle any issues that Yvonne or I might have.  Well, if he was, I wouldn't be writing this right now, would I?

I called the new dentist, he didn't know what to do.  I explained to him what he was supposed to do, step-by-step and he didn't know how...or was just too lazy.  I offered to do it myself, and teach him in the process and he said he didn't want to, that he was too busy.  No, I'm not a dentist, but having watched the steps of relining a denture, I could do it in my sleep (not to mention that our previous dentist showed me how).  At any rate, we had to go "off campus" and head to Austin.

I found a dentist that would work with us on a Saturday, early in the morning, and allow me to keep my arms and legs in the process.  She explained to us that Yvonne was going to have to get a whole new set and that she could do it, but she didn't take our insurance (why would she, that would make too much sense and make things too easy).  She was able to reline the denture, and explained everything that would have to take place.  I found a dentist that would be able to make everything happen, but it's going to take quite some time (at least she's working with us and is able to fix the situation enough that Yvonne can eat again).

So, that happened, and we're dealing with it...still.




Two weeks ago, I brought Yvonne to the mall in Austin in order to take advantage of some of the sales.  We've been temporarily living in Austin and Georgetown lately due to treatments for Yvonne.  My Chevy, which has Yvonne's scooter-lift, is down, so we had to take our other vehicle.  I keep a wheelchair in our other car's trunk so that Yvonne always has personal transportation.  She can walk, but only for a few steps, then she'll be on the floor having suffered gravity poisoning (read as fall).

I brought Yvonne to her favorite record store.  She loves to go through and find treasures like old Sam Cooke albums and I like to look for my favorite guitarists and bassists latest releases.  So, there we were, enjoying life and living the dream.

Now, I have several hats that I wear:  Husband, Veteran, Caregiver, Father, Friend. Of all of them, I am a Husband first.  My Caregiving role is important, and I wouldn't trade it for anything (except for a cure for Yvonne's conditions).  Not unlike any spouse, I am very protective of my Wife and have become even more so through the course of becoming a Caregiver as well.  Yes, I'm leading up to something that happened in the record store.

Like most of you, I am never more than half a step away from my Caree.  We never know what's going to happen, or who is going to do something.  With that being said, I was directly behind Yvonne while she was looking at a Sam Cooke record (I'm dating myself here, I call CDs records).  The store is pretty convenient in that their collections are not separated by genre, they are ordered alphabetically.  So, while Yvonne was looking at Sam Cooke, I was looking at Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I happened to look up right when this kid (I say kid, but he was in his twenties, easy) came walking briskly past Yvonne.  He must not have been looking where he was walking, because he caught his foot on the foot-rest of her chair.  He stumbled, but didn't fall.  Yvonne wasn't aware of what had just happened and she doesn't know what happened next.

The "kid" had a nasty look on his face, and kept looking down at his shoes.  His head popped up, his eyes flashed anger, and he said, "B****..."  He barely got the word out before I grabbed him, drew him in behind Yvonne, and whispered into his ear, "You have about two seconds to compose yourself and apologize before I manually correct you."  When I put him down (did I mention that I had lifted him up by his collar?) he apologized, fixed himself up and left the store.

So, we were at the checkout counter sometime later, and the store manager came to me and asked if I wanted a job in security.  I had to politely decline the offer since we live so far away from Austin, it would make no financial sense for me to take the job.  It was flattering, indeed; however, explaining to the manager about why a Caregiver is so protective over their Caree took more time than I'd like to admit.  Taking into account that the record store experience was still better than the experience in the grocery store parking lot, things went well.




On Twitter, I mentioned my Sentient Toaster.  It's time to explain the full story and how it got to the point that the toaster rules the house.  For Christmas, I got Yvonne the Samsung Galaxy S4 and a tablet to go with it.  Like any man, I buy my Wife a bunch of stuff that she doesn't need or want, but appreciates any way.  One of the features on the phone is a program called SmartRemote.  Just like any remote control that you can buy in any store, it can be programmed to operate almost any device that has infrared communication capabilities.

Our phones are programmed in a way that we can control as many items as possible from television and DVR to garage door.  It makes life super convenient, and it helps clear up some of the clutter on our coffee table.  No more piles of remote controls, multiple batteries to change, etc.

Now, a few years ago, I had upgraded the light switch in my kitchen to a switch that is motion activated.  Seems like a great idea, right?  It's not. This is how your toaster becomes sentient.  Unaware that our kitchen island runs on the same circuit as the lighting (seems pretty unsafe), I had no idea that if a remote control was pointed in the direction of the kitchen, that the light would go on or off.  It never occurred to me that the switch I installed had infrared capabilities (why would it?).  Unbeknownst to me (but knownst to Yvonne ;-)  ), her phone got programmed to control the light switch in the kitchen.  Unaware that she had done this, I was in the kitchen, cleaning and getting stuff ready for the meals the following day.  Click...the light went out.  I waved my hand, and the light popped back on.  Click...the light went out.  Again, I waved my hand, and the light popped back on.  Click...the toaster turned on.  Now I was confused.  Our toaster is a relatively simple device, as they are and there are only two buttons, a dial, and a plug.  Simple...but it was plugged into the kitchen island, which was hooked into the kitchen lighting which gave Yvonne the ability to play a prank on me with her new phone.  While I was standing there, wondering if SkyNet had been activated, I could hear Yvonne giggling from the den.

Sneaking up behind her, I could see her phone screen.  She had figured out that the kitchen lighting had the IR capability way ahead of me and, took advantage of it.  She wasn't aware that the toaster would pop on (why would it?).  Well, it turns out that one particular outlet on the kitchen island is wired for IR.  It makes no sense to me, why would someone do this?  So, until I get that looked at by a qualified electrician, the running joke is to unplug the sentient toaster before bed.




OK, last little bit, and then I've got to get everything put away -- we're finally home (for now); and, get dinner started.

Whenever we travel, there are some crucial things that I carry along with us, one of which is my guitar.  The guitar combined with a headphone amp and effects downloaded to my tablet keep me from getting bored when Yvonne is asleep.  She was awake for this, however...and she was able to record my practice, add some effects to it, and save it to the tablet.  So, using my guitar, her tablet, and the software on my tablet, she was able to record me practicing, and turn it into something for you.  You'll find the link below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8zSDDLqsh5fbTdEcVQxU0pGOHM/view?usp=sharing

 

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Denise

John, I find you so inspiring because know how to make things happen for you and Yvonne (including remotely popping up toast).\r\n\r\nI'm so sorry about that awful experience in the record store. Just appalling. I loved that you got offered a security job out of it. :)

LilMagill

Great stories as always, John! I'm so impressed with the way you talked to the rude kid in the store. Yvonne is lucky to have you at her back!

Lillie Fuller

Thank you for disciplining that kid! If it were my kid, I'd want you to do the same thing. Yvonne was pretty sneaky huh? Good for her, keeping you on your toes with the kitchen lights and the toaster!!! Thank you for sharing! And sorry for all the dental issues, that's gotta suck.