Story 14Jan2021: Long Day

The morning started with me getting going about 7ish, reading and writing, and having coffee. I take my first pills with food at 10, so I delay breakfast a bit to allow it to be within 30 minutes of taking my prescriptions. Precision will be required once the chemotherapy starts on 28Jan2022.

I head out in Air Volvo after 10:20ish. I had to stop by RiteAid, which has my prescriptions. It is a few miles away and is not my usual place. The Bales Market next to the pharmacy went under. Bales, a local grocery chain, did not survive the changes in purchasing habits before and during the pandemic and disappeared in 2019. The RiteAid is huge and fresh with the blues and greens of the brand, but many shelves are empty. RiteAid is stocking the store as less busy now without physically shrinking the store.

My prescriptions are filled this time, and the normal process of scanning and buying happens. The pharmacist reviews the new drugs with me, but he rushes and mostly reads what is on the label. I mention that I have cancer, and the scripts are for dealing with the chemotherapy, and he snaps out of his standard spiel and wishes me well. He then rushes off to the next consult.

Air Volvo and I head to Forest Grove. I use the navigation to find my way from the RiteAid, and then ignore it and go my own way until it catches up. I do not want to retrace my steps exactly as it is a boring drive.

There are no incidents, and traffic is light on Friday. I reach the Forest Grove Rehab and Care Center at 11ish and pass the rituals, and soon I am in Susie’s room of 44A. Susie is less responsive today and more sleepy. She also has a low blood pressure of 91/50, and we all begin to push fluids. I wake up Susie and spoon feed her 1/3 glass of thickened Apple Juice.

Susie wakes more, and she complains that something is wrong. It takes me about half an hour to learn that she has issues with her hands. The joints are painful. Tylenol is given in some apple sauce as Susie cannot take whole pills.

Before this, I did slip out and have a lengthy lunch at the Grand Lodge, a former retirement home for the Masons now a hotel, event center, with three restaurants and catering. I spent a whole hour there eating a beef dip sandwich (my first beef since the surgery in December) called, appropriately, an Eastern Star Dip (Eastern Star is the women’s organization for the Masons).

Richard had organized a Friday night game of Imperial Steam, a new constrained economic board game. Board games have been developed over the last twenty years that simulate the decisions and actions of building railroads and other engines of commerce. These games focus on generating resources, placement of factories and other means to get money, and the expansion and efficiencies required to be successful. The players compete on the same board and often race to get the best placement and receive rewards for being first. These are known as mean games as the resources are constrained, and the competition can be fierce; plus, these games frequently have complex rules exceptions that can really confuse players, and players must be careful not to over-extend and be unable to do much on their turn. Best to be played by mature, detail-oriented, and friendly gamers.

I have an 18xx game and Brass Lancashire in this style. Richard claims that Imperial Steam is less forgiving than Brass, but I think the new gameplay is easier to do than Brass. Also, the card mechanism in Brass is gone in Imperial Steam, and the map is generated, making, I think, for a better look overall. We had very few re-doing turns in our game which always happens in Brass.

I spent lunch with earbuds watching a video, and reading reviews to get a basic handle on the game.

Returning to the narrative, Susie was less responsive after the pain meds, likely she was worn about by the unexpected pain, the sudden nurses descending on her, and me feeding her for a while. She did get to talk to her mother by FaceTime but did nod off when Leta and I chatted for a bit about Leta’s day.

The hardest part of the day was the hospice folks finally coming at 3:30ish. I spent over an hour meeting with them at a table. They will be taking over Susie’s care which will now be based on End-Of-Life and comfort, and not trying for rehab or continuation into the future. It is tough for me to accept and painful to read the rules and sign forms for Susie. But, basically, we will use a new service, Bristol Hospice, as our medical folks, including calling them instead of 911. They do not supply any nursing help or caregiving; this I knew, but it is still painful to hear. I must hire all my own nursing or do it myself. Bristol Hospice will supply medical equipment, drugs, training, and doctors. In effect, Bristol is managing hospice as defined by Medicare. Thus, there is no nursing for the dying in the USA unless–it is not covered by Medicare–you pay for it yourself or do it yourself (long-term care insurance is expensive and hard to get in the USA). Again, I knew this to be accurate, but the reality now falls hard on me.

I head out with my new folder and things to read, and they do their evaluation of Susie while I drive to Portland. I find that I am a distraction to assessment and therapy for Susie, so I do not usually attend. However, in October, I learned how to get Susie into a car in Mount Sinia West in New York City. This was done as part of the Occupational Therapy and to help me learn how to get Susie in a Taxi for our flight home.

I drive the hour to Richard’s house across the river in Portland. The traffic was light for a Friday, and I only had to dodge one car that changed lanes by taking two lanes at once and the exit. This time done at high speeds. I suspect the driver is originally from California.

Kathline and Shawn, both I have not seen for a long time, played with us for a cut-throat four-person game of Imperial Steam. Richard teaches the game well, and my watching of videos really helped while playing; we do not need the rulebook except for end-game scoring. That is not like Brass, where I find myself back in the rules at least a few times. Kathline and I are first-time players, and we get lost a few times on what we should do. Richard is so intense he has a notepad and is writing out plans for his next set of turns. Shawn is a threat to Richard, but I manage third place, and Kathline, who overextended herself (an easy thing to do), is in last place. We both learned, too late, that the factories are the most essential item in the game. The game is really about building combinations of factories to fulfill contracts which are enabled by producing tracks and trains to transfer goods to allow payments to keep expanding. Kathline and I focused more on trains at first, figuring it was a train game.

I drove Kathline home, and we discussed the game and what has been happening since we last saw each other. Kathline is an architect working in Portland and a German.

I got home after 11 and had a bagel, and Corwin had some leftover rice and ham that I had as a side to my bagel with cream cheese. I took my pills and fell almost immediately to sleep. I slept until my alarm.

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