Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Scary Day …

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… yesterday . Bev had terrible time trying to breathe early in morning but improved as the day progressed. Calling for more shots of morphine. The hot-and-humid monsoon weather isn’t helping. Plan to discuss steps-to-come with hospice and long-term-care insurance folks in next few days.

Interesting to note she’s monitoring her own progress in this blog — so, if anyone has a response, they can do so here and she’ll see it.

Mike called before his trip: he’s flying to Toronto tomorrow for Lou’s b’day Thursday, Scaglione tribe picnic Saturday in Hamilton and gathering at Lou’s place next Sunday. Then it’s train to Windsor and final-day with a long-time friend in Ann Arbor the day before he leaves and gets back to Detroit airport two weeks from now. Lou called and he’s getting ready for the visit and the weekend activity. He and Jean are sked to be here in a month. We’re both looking forward to that, Bev much more so to chats with Jean and Lou.

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 15, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Six Minutes that Changed my Life

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The Windsor Star was considered one of the best — if not the best — Canadian newspaper outside of Toronto at the time. Our downtown office overlooked the mile-wide Detroit River separating us from downtown Detroit.

I had been there less than a year when I bashed out some words to show the city editor what a waste of time it had been to assign a photographer and me to cover a God-knows-what-it-was-about conference on a topic no one gave a lick about at a local college. My chore was to write down the names, addresses, titles, etc. of photographed subjects. While we corralled them, I got conversation going by asking what the heck these people did and who wrote the bafflegab in the pile of papers shoved at me as we entered the conference hall.

While waiting for photos to be developed back at the office, I spun a sheet of copy paper into my typewriter and pounded out a piece on how stupid the whole thing sounded as I copied titles I didn’t understand taken at random from that bundle of papers I hauled back to the office. I flipped the copy onto the city editor’s desk on my way to the can and to get a cup of coffee, in that order. The writing exercise took almost six minutes.

As I ambled by the city editor on the way back to my desk, I heard him snicker. He never chuckled or laughed or guffawed – he snickered. He said, “Scag, this is pretty good,” and tucked it into the pneumatic tube that whooshed it up to the composing room to be set in type. The story ran word-for-word just as it was bashed out, wrapped around a small box explaining there was this strange conference in town. For some reason, we never ran a photo.

Several months later, the city editor called me to his desk and said he’d just learned the essay had won a major Canadian journalism award for humorous writing. It took a bit of time for both of us to recover from being pleasantly agape. That win vaulted me to the top tier of newspaper, magazine, radio and television news gatherers and writers on both sides of the river. Job offers began fluttering in by phone, letter, telegram and impromptu conversation. Those six minutes enabled me to pick the spots I wanted from then on where and when I wanted them. My first hop was to the Detroit News – the largest afternoon daily in the U.S. at the time.

This is the Windsor Star piece that opened that door.

 

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 14, 2018 at 6:16 am

Bev enjoyed . . .

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. . . the kids’ and grandkids’ visit to watch the July 4 fireworks from our third-floor balcony.

The show was a bit disappointing because the sparkling showers were nowhere near as robust as last year’s, which had prompted the suggestion they come here to view the kaleidoscopic displays here this year.

No matter, the visit was grand and everyone enjoyed the buffalo wings. Shot several buffalo – they looked like bison — earlier in the day for their wings and added sauces to please everyone’s taste – Melia’s, Dean’s, Heather’s, Steve’s, Bev’s and mine.

AND, Steve installed an air-deflector over the bedroom air vent before he and Dean re-connected our desktop computers with our printer, which had refused to talk to them after some sort of electrical glitch late last week.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 5, 2018 at 10:48 pm

They Threw Me Out of . . .

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. . . the bridge club here because I kept asking “What’s Trump?.”

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 5, 2018 at 7:43 am

Posted in Humor / Quote

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A Good Day!!!

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Not only did The Bev get to go shopping, she got herself a La Z Boy recliner that does everything but pay our taxes. It’s hand control directs its recline position, body massager and heating pad.  The color — a beige-brown that fades into any situation — wasn’t her top choice but to wait for her No. 1 pick would have taken six weeks. The chosen chair is sked to be delivered this Saturday.

It was our first outing with me pushing her in the transport wheelchair and she wasn’t all that laudatory about my driving skill. But things will work out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 3, 2018 at 10:21 pm

Closet Clothes-Out

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Bev and Heather spent a good portion of the p.m. Saturday gleaning clothing to keep and clothing to take out of her Sunrise of Arizona closet. The pile fills an oversize trash bag.

She’s keeping it for a couple of weeks to let friends go over the selections before wheeling it off to Goodwill.

She said she’s going to attack her shoe collection next.

The fear is that all this will bring on a massive shopping attack.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 1, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Bev’s on Hospice-at-Home Care Now

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No more doctor’s appointments, tests and treatments. Part of my responsibilities is to give her .25 ml of morphine and .25 ml of Ativan as needed. Morphine is the go-to medication when she’s in discomfort or distress. Ativan no more than every 2 hours. There’s an array of other meds to take throughout the day.

A nurse (Liz) comes every Tuesday, nursing assistant (Crystal) every Mon and Thurs, Dr. Abraham visits every three weeks, and a social worker (Emily) drops by randomly.

Bev did manage a Target trek this week that had to be cut short because it pooped her right out. But, after a cacao-coffee in the bistro, she recovered and had a real good rest-of-the-day.

It’s no longer Good Day, Bad Day, it’s good morning/bad morning, good afternoon/bad afternoon or good evening/bad evening.

It’s hard to breathe watching her destruction. It’s wonderful that she’s such a game fighter but it’s heart-bruising, stomach-knotting, and eye-watering to watch her getting up slower and slower and slower after each knockdown.

 

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 27, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Memories & Milestones

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The ALS Journey

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Imagine a slope.

You’re standing on it. But something’s wrong.

You’re sliding. You try to dig in your toes and your heels. You try to walk backwards or to turn around and get back up. But you keep sliding.

You don’t feel any texture, you just keep sliding. You’re in total blackness. There is no light. There is no breeze or draft or odor. You’ve never been here before.

You can’t see where the slide bottoms out. You can’t see if it levels off. Or if it undulates up and down.

And you keep sliding.

You realize there’s someone beside you. “Are you OK,” you ask.

The response is quite close. It’s a bit slurred. Like a person who just tumbled out of bed. Or has had a bit too much to drink.

You touch an arm and follow it down to the wrist and hand. The hand accepts yours. It feels cool and smooth — a bit like metal — but it’s soft and flaccid. Instead of gripping your clasp, it sort of shakes it to let you know it’s there.

You’re still sliding. Both of you. You don’t know how fast. You start wondering if you’re going to bump into or trip over anything.

There’s a sound you don’t recognize. Their hand slips out of yours.

“Are you OK,” you ask. “Yesshh,” you hear. It’s still close but the source seems somewhere.

You reach out and around and touch an arm. You try to help them stand up but there’s no cooperating strength or self-help.

“Can you stand up,” you ask. You’re told they can’t feel their feet and their legs won’t move.

You keep on sliding.

Then you hear coughcoughcoughcoughcough khaaaccccch coughcoughcoughcough. You reach out to help but you can’t reach them. You didn’t realize it but they’ve slid somewhere out of reach. There’s nothing you can do.

You both just keep on sliding. The coughing is sliding with you.

Then you hear a different sound – short gasps. “Ican’tbreatheIcan’tbreathe” they’re trying to shout but they start to choke. It sounds like they have a plastic bag tied over their head.

Your foot hits something so you reach down to pick it up. It’s feels like a sandwich. Food. It smells like ham and cheese.

Then there’s a new sound. “I…can’t…swa…llow.” You feel guilty but you have to eat. It’s difficult to push it through that knot in your stomach. You have to stay strong to try to help them.

And you keep on sliding and sliding and slid…

 

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

Bev’s Being Battered . . .

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Finally getting back to work on this venue after being blocked out by some cyberspace quirk. Had to use Beverly’s email address in settling for whoknowswhat reason so anyone responding to messages will have to do it on this site or address it to cecilscag@gmail.com.

Much has happened since we were cut off from posting last December.

The most devastating has been the medical blows landing on Beverly.

It all began early this year when a neurologist diagnosed three possible problems for her rapid loss of motor facilities: a neurological disease, cancer and/or ALS. Specialists were recommended and visited.

The first diagnosis was cancer in her left breast and two malignant tumors in her spine. Bone-building IV every four weeks was initiated immediately and radiation and chemotherapy were both prescribed. Bev started a five-days-a-week radiation treatment for three weeks and the thousands-of-dollars’-a-month’s worth of chemotherapy medication was arranged without cost through the efforts of a patient advocate/support worker at the cancer clinic.

Both prescriptions were disastrous.

The radiation launched a serious coughing problem that racked her for hours and hours and still attacks out of nowhere. After her ninth of 15 scheduled sessions, she told the doctor she wasn’t taking anymore, and why. She also told the oncologist she was dropping the chemo medication because it made her sicker.

By this time, she also was diagnosed with ALS so both doctors (radiologist and oncologist) agreed with her so her life will be more comfortable. She’s still getting the IV every four weeks and has blood drawn monthly to monitor the progress of Lou Gehrig’s disease. All we can do is try slowing it down and help her maintain some level of comfort.

She was told she probably has had ALS for the past half-dozen years, leading family members to speculate on whether or not she needed the spinal surgery that was performed in San Diego to stop the deteriorating use of her right arm and hand. A possible trigger was son Ross’ death.

She now uses a walker and no longer drives. Through contacts made at the first of her quarterly clinics with the ALS doctor, she has received a transport wheelchair, toilet support bars and large-handled eating utensils from the ALS Association. A doctor’s prescriptions also got her a respiratory machine to assist her breathing and we’ve yet to make an appointment to get fitted for toe braces prescribed to keep her toes lifted so she doesn’t trip and fall, which would be crippling.

We’re also talking with home-care workers and hospice/palliative care organizations to identify pathways to take as the unknown continues to happen. The ALS Ass’n is scheduled to deliver a power chair this week so she can get around more easily.

Despite being unable to perform such everyday actions as driving five minutes to visit the grandkids and opening bottles of water, she still erupts into her solar smile when someone calls or her favorite horse wins.

Her birthday was June 6 and she had a good day opening a pile of cards, phone-chatting with new and long-time friends, swapping plans with daughter Heather who came to visit and then elevatoring downstairs for dinner that ended with balloons, a cake and sing-along greeting.

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 15, 2018 at 7:59 am

Life Before Air-Conditioning . . .

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. . . did not exist in Aridzona.  Summer roared in this week as green fees plummeted at local golf courses. But the star-sparkling nights out on the balcony are marvelous.

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 10, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Posted in A Musing

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