Thursday, December 15, 2005

Raise the Stakes

I was working on the synopsis of Washed in the Blood this morning. I guess it says a lot about me that I truly enjoy putting John through Hell. I kept asking myself "What's the worst thing that could happen?". Some good ideas come out of that.

What does John have at stake? His soul. Is that high enough stakes for you? It can't be his life, because he's already dead, so what else is there? It's all he has left. So far, he's a vampire with no clue how to survive. He's just discovered that he has to have fresh human blood from a living body to survive. About 2 liters every 72 hours. No blood banks or animal substitutes heres, John. No easy way out for you. You're a monster, you have to learn how to cope with that. He's also a double murderer, and one of his victims was his own wife, whom he loved with all his heart. His daughter and granddaughter, along with his friends, neighbors, and everybody else, think he's a murderous, mutilating psychopath. Oh, and while he's juggling all this, he has to track down and destroy a vampire that is at leat 4000 years more experienced than he is, as well as being a ruthless sociopath. Hmmmm. I might need to add a little tension into this.

I'm halfway through: 550 words out of 1000. Let's see what happens tomorrow. I just need to keep the old saying in mind: "It can always get worse". Heh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Update and a Quick Christmas Rant

The doctors determined that Mama was too weak to undergo a catheterization, much less any exploratory or reconstructive surgery. So. She's coming home this afternoon. Now we wait. Days, weeks, even years. I already cringe at the sound of the telephone, a leftover neurosis from the anxiety-based psychosis that put me in the loony bin a few years back. Now, I live in dread of that 3am phone call that I know will come, I just don't know when.

Suspense is great in novels. It's what pulls the readers in and keeps them attached to the story. In real life, it really sucks. My life needs a TiVo.

And now, a few words the Grinch:

Anybody out there who fancies themselves a singer, I have a Christmas request. Actually, 2 requests. Actually demands.

1. When you sing "O Holy Night", just sing the song. Your trills and filigress and warbles do not add anything to it. They only mean that either you wouldn't recognize real beauty if it beat you up and stole your lunch money or you can't carry a tune in a galvanized bucket. Or both. This song does not need your help. It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written just as it stands. Pleas, please, don't torture it and us with your egotistical efforts.

2. If your voice does not have the power to pull the listeners up out of their seats when you hit "Fall on your knees...", don't even start. You cannot sing this song. All you can do is embarrass yourself. Those people who recognize their limitations are the most successful in life. Learn from them.

Thank you. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My New Retirement Fund

My blog is worth $15,242.58.
How much is your blog worth?

Thanks, Heather!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Miracles Do Happen

This past Monday, my mother had a heart attack. Long-time readers of NITA will remember that she is wheel-chair-bound after a major stroke in 1999, and was already fading. She was admitted to the ICU and faltered all through Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday morning, her doctor told my father to start calling the family, because she probably would not live through the day, and certainly not through the night.

When I got there Thursday morning, her blood pressure was wavering around 65 over 45. A Bi-PAP machine with supplemental oxygen was helping her breathe, but she was still gasping and struggling. At this point, we ran up against the hardest decisions we had ever faced. Mama left strict Do Not Rescucitate and no artificial life support orders. It was up to us to decide what that meant. A ventilator was definitely out, but what about the Bi-PAP? It was not forcing her to breathe, just giving an assist. Should we let them try dopamine to bring her blood pressure up? That is strictly a crisis-intervention measure for her, given the state of her circulatory system. Tough time, tough decisions. We decided to leave the Bi-PAP on and try the dopamine. Were we right? Who can tell. We did what we thought best.

A potential side-effect of dopamine is tachycardia, or accelerated heart beat. Unfortunately, we did not know this until Mama's heart rate went up to almost 150 beats per minute. For someone already weak and with a damaged heart, this was definitely a really bad turn of events. The ICU nurses kept adjusting dosages and got her heart rate down and blood pressure up, but she was in definite respiratory distress.

By 11 o'clock Thursday night, Mama's condition had actually stabilized. Her breathing was better, and her heart rate and blood pressure stayed at something at least resembling normal levels. The fact that she lived through the night was amazing in and of itself. The fact that she regained consciousness Friday morning and was able to respond to questions with head shakes or nods is nothing short of a miracle. I don't know what to think about her continuing improvement since then. Some things cannot be explained by science.

Anyone who witnesses the power of the human spirit cannot come away unchanged. To see a person challenge all odds and beat them, to see a person stand face to face with Death, spit in it's face, and dare it to do something about it, is one of life's most inspirational and wonder-ful moments. Anything is possible. Miracles actually happen. Almost any doctor or nurse can tell you about impossible things that happened, and people that lived in spite of, or perhaps to spite, their condition.

What happens from here, we don't know. She will probably go to the Medical Center of middle Georgia tomorrow for a heart catheterization so the doctor can evaluate the damage and start to make treatment plans. Right now, all I can do is walk in awe and wonder.