184) Weight Ruminations & Glimpses of Mortality

October 30, 2007

El Milagro:
Halloween is in full swing here tonight. Staff are dressed up and there are ghostly decorations hanging from the ceilings. I weigh in at 76.9 and ruminate about that all the way over to my chair. Rosie the Cat Tech comes over to poke me. She is dressed in black scrubs with a long black tail pinned to the back of her shirt. She has whiskers drawn on and cat ears stuck in her hair. Phyllis the Nurse is dressed as a nurse and working the updates on the computer. She asks for my weight and I say, “76.9! That’s a little high.”

I go on to ruminate audibly… “Maybe I ate too much over the weekend… but it didn’t seem so… let’s see, I had a salad Sunday night, no huge meals… Maybe I’m drinking too much liquid. I’ve never had to worry about that and don’t want to have to now…” and on and on. She doesn’t seem too worried and says something like “Hummm”. So I continue, “Check my ankles… they don’t seem puffy do they?” She leans over to feel my ankle and replies, “But look at your face. It’s puffy.” “What? Thanks Phyllis” And immediately Rosie starts giggling and then laughing, saying “Puffy like a blowfish.” Phyllis walks off and we are both cracking up… “Puffy face, puffy face” Rosie kids me. And I blow my cheeks out like a blowfish. Phyllis returns and reports that some people do carry water in their upper extremities rather than their feet. And I do look kinda puffy today. She recommends I at least keep track of my liquid intake for awhile to see how much I am ingesting. The limit is around 32 ounces a day for dialysis patients. So I hooked up and left to my own brooding thoughts about weight gain. I grab the clip board with my data and review my weights for the past month… creating the above chart in my head. I notice that my beginning weight is always higher on Tuesdays (10/9, 10/16, 10/23) and goes down over the week of dialysis. What bothers me is that it seems like the Tuesdays start weight is slowly going up over time.

On NPR’s All Things Considered I hear a story comparing Texas’ juvenile justice system to one in Missouri*. We have about a 50% recidivism rate (long known to all who work in TYC and Juvenile Courts… and based on our “whip ‘em into shape” mentality in that system) whereas Missouri has a philosophy of re-training and preparation for adult life in the reported facility. And, their recidivism rate? Well, that would be about 7.3%. Boy. Those Missourian kids must be much more savable than ours! Today they discussed Missouri: tomorrow an interview about the Texas system. I can hardly wait.

Sometime in the middle of this session, Celeste the Nurse comes up and reports that I need to have another series of Hep B shots. I reply that I already had a series and she replies that my recent bloodwork showed that I am susceptible again and need the shots again. I respectfully refuse, saying that I want more information about what’s going on before I decide to get another series. She tries to explain; but her explanation sounds like she is giving it to a non-English speaking idiot: “You must have this shot because the number was 5 on the last lab work.”
Why was it so low? I just had this series a few months ago. Doesn’t make sense to me”
The number was 5 and it means you are susceptible and you must have the shot. Will you take the shot?”
I want to know more about this whole thing before I decide”
“The number is 5 and that indicates you need the shot” This went on for a few minutes and she did bring me a piece of paper that showed a 5 on it. But, that 5 was for a test done in March. I will hold off and talk to either Phyllis or Doc Rowder about the whole thing.

So I read a bit, watch the news, snooze-a-rama, and wake up to watch Frontline… a very fascinating report on an undertaker’s perspective (The Undertaking**) that we are… “among the first couple of generations for whom the presence of the dead at their own funerals has become optional. And I see that as probably not good news for the culture at large." This is what Thomas Lynch; writer, poet, and funeral director in a small town in central Michigan, thinks and states in this thought-provoking report. He goes on to say that "Funerals are the way we close the gap between the death that happens and the death that matters. A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living where they need to be." The show focused on people and their funerals in the frame of a bleak and brown Michigan winter. It reminds me of my childhood and being in Michigan in the winter... must've been when I was about 7 or so. I wonder how close Lynch is to Lawrence, my mom’s home-town in central Michigan. I remember now that behind my Grandmother's house was a cemetery and I used to study the gravestones there.

And as I watch, I can’t help but also think of my dad and if he would have any interest in this guy’s take on death and the preparations for saying “goodbye”. My dad always likes Bill Moyers reports and they have a similar quality of curious thoughtfulness as this report. And, I also think about mine and Liz’s lack of funeral plans. Morbid? Maybe. But it is the day before Halloween. And, as a person entering their 60’s I think it is an important topic to at least bring to the fore and begin to consider. And so I watch this show closely, even through some beginnings of cramping. I work my calves and feet with my hands as I watch different people discuss death and dying and funerals. The cramping never gets screamable and it passes after about 30 minutes. Finally I am still absorbed as Rosie is back to de-cannulate me and patch me up. I sit quietly holding my poke-hole wounds, wondering about discussing this show with Lizzie.

Notes: In at 76.9 and out at 72.8 kgs.
* Beaubien, J. Missouri sees teen offenders as kids, not inmates. Retrieved October 2007 from All Things Considered’s website:
** Lynch, T. The Undertaking. Retrieved October 2007 from Frontline’s website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/undertaking/etc/synopsis.html
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