Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for the ‘Memories & Milestones’ Category

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

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

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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

We Haven’t Made it Yet . . .

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. . . even though we moved in at the end of last month. Reality of the change still has to sink in.

After several decades in our Pacific Beach home that was air-conditioned by Pacific breezes, we relocated at the end of last month to an Independent-Living apartment complex in Gilbert, abutting the Phoenix suburbs of Mesa and Tempe in Aridzona.

The quarters are spacious and comfortable, the location is handy to everything we need – banks, eateries, shopping malls, post office and medical-care offices and clinics – all our meals are provided when we decide not to prepare anything in our own kitchen, the folks are friendly, and we’re just 15 minutes from our daughter and the grandkids.

The move requires leaving our son in San Diego and adjusting to community living as well as the dry desert climate that, we’ve been told by everyone, is H E L L for four months every year.

Besides the voluminous amount of phone calls and document changes, we’re also snowed under with too much stuff. Getting rid of that has become a major priority. No. 1 is changing auto registration and driver’s license. No. 2 is lining up doctor appoints. Stuff-elimination is No. 3.

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

Prescient Arizona Editor Predicted Pearl Harbor . . .

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Editor’s note: This editorial was written by William R. Mathews, who bought the Arizona Daily Star in 1924 and was editor of the newspaper for more than 40 years. He was married to Betty Boyers and died in 1969.

This editorial, predicting that Japan would attack the U.S., possibly at Pearl Harbor, was published in the Star on Nov. 28, 1941, just days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, on Dec. 7, 1941.

THE MEANING OF MR. KURUSU’S MISSION

Failure of Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the special Japanese emissary, Saburo Kurusu, to find a basis for a peaceful settlement of the differences between the two countries emphasizes once more the apparent irreconcilability of the respective diplomatic policies, and the definite prospect that only with the sword can the differences be settled.

Mr. Hull demands that Japan evacuate French Indo-China and China proper; the Japanese demand that America stay out of that part of Asia, asserting that what goes on in that area is of no more concern to America than South America is to Japan. The Japanese refuse to withdraw. It is probable that any Japanese government that would withdraw from China would be overthrown by the Japanese people. Mr. Hull refuses to modify the American policy. There the matter stands as the economic blockade of Japan pinches tighter and tighter.

Whether American policy is correct or not is now beside the point. The important feature of this affair is that the two policies are manifestly irreconcilable and that unless one or the other gives in war is as certain as the sunrise in the morning. How soon the war breaks out is entirely up to Japan. It is possible that cooler heads in Tokyo will prevent for a while the hot-headed ones from doing anything that might precipitate hostilities. On the other hand as the pinch of the economic blockade grows tighter and tighter the chances are that the feeling this situation generates will precipitate some kind of an incident in Japan and then the war will be on. War may come within a week; it may still be six months off, but hardly more than that.

When war comes with Japan, it will come without warning. The Japanese habitually strike first and then declare war. They did this in the case of Russia when after the failure of the Japanese minister in old St. Petersburg to reach an agreement, the Japanese fleet, without warning, sailed into Port Arthur and sank a part of the Russian fleet. Between that incident and the present situation there is a strong resemblance. America will know that there is war with Japan some fine morning when the people of the country wake up and find that the Japanese have, without warning, seized Guam, surrounded our puny Asiatic fleet or sent submarines into Pearl Harbor and sunk a couple of our battleships. Very definitely Japan will choose her own time.

As matters stand today Japan will probably mark time and go just as far as she can without getting into an additional war. Consequently, since she already has her forces in French Indo-China, she probably can venture to cut the Burma road by a land attack without provoking war with America. With this road cut she will cut the last life line that the Chungking government has and thus weaken China’s ability to resist. Then by waiting for the end of the Russian campaign and the coming attack on Britain she may hope to strike when both America and Britain are desperately engaged in the Atlantic, and our fleet divided between two oceans. And then there will be a real world war on that will require every ounce of American strength to win.

The failure of the Kurusu mission to Washington thus means that war between Japan and America is inevitable. The American people are now in the position where they will soon have to put up or shut up. Since they approve of a policy that calls for war, they must expect to go to war or change that policy.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 8, 2016 at 7:52 am