Archive for September, 2007



I Heard Wedding Bells

Six Weeks Ago
Rocco and I are sitting at the table having dinner. He had recently been offered a position at a new ATT/Apple store. Rocco asks what kind of insurance I have.

“Umm, none,” I reply. “My company doesn’t offer insurance because there are so few employees.”

“What? That’s crazy. You need insurance,” he says.

“Yeah, well, not gonna happen.” I go back to picking at my sweet peas, which are Rocco’s favorite (and my most hated) vegetable.

“I guess we’ll have to get married, then,” Rocco muses.


“No, think about it,” Rocco continues. “I’ll have insurance and you won’t. And you need it.”

“Why?” I ask. “Because I’m old and fat and smoke?”


“Although you might be on to something. We could register and get all kinds of free shit for the house!”

“Well, yeah. I guess,” Rocco says.

I call Aunt Doodie straight away to tell her of my hilarious impending nuptials. She immediately begins planning the wedding, including asking what kind of dress I plan to wear and offering to host both the engagement party and the reception.

“Hold your horses there, Doodie,” I say. “It’s not that kind of wedding. We’ll get a marriage license, sign it, and that’s it.”

Doodie pouts.

Four Weeks Ago
I talk about The Wedding all the time to Rocco, mostly just to freak him out. I fully anticipate he’ll break the engagement, but to my surprise he starts asking me to do things like get my credit report and find my birth certificate. (He is so romantic!)  Most of my friends think this wedding thing is beyond funny, although a few of them stand in abject horror at the very idea. But I figure there’s really no harm. Rocco and I live together and are already considering buying the house we’ve spent so much time and money renovating. He’ll never get married, and at this point it looks as though I likely won’t, either. I figure if I ever do meet someone and decide to marry, Rocco and I could have our union annulled on the grounds that we’d never consummated the marriage. But then certain buzzkills started throwing around words like “fraud” and “felony,” and I had to start being a little more careful about whom I told.

Three Weeks Ago
I make the now-famous announcement in the hospital waiting room on the night of my mother’s initial medical emergency. It is brought to my attention that if my mother was aware that I was marrying a gay man, her brain would explode all over again.

Two Weeks Ago
Rocco gets a new, better job offer with Starbucks.

“Good news!” Rocco announces. “Starbucks offers domestic partner benefits, so we don’t have to get married.”

“Wow! Okay,” I say. “So we’re not getting married anymore?”

“No point in it now, is there?” he asks.

“Well, if we got married we were going to register for gifts. And I really wanted a Cuisinart. I don’t know what a Cuisinart is, but dammit, I wanted one!”

“Oh, man! I forgot about that. I was looking forward to the free shit,” Rocco says.

“It’s okay. Maybe you’ll get fired from Starbucks and have to go to work for ATT/Apple,” I say in consolation.

But then I found out what a Cuisinart was, and now I’m disappointed. A $400 mixer? I could totally use that!



… And This Is Where It Stands Now

12:21 am · category: The Whole Fam Damnly

I don’t have the energy to recall and record all the details right now regarding my mother’s brain explosion. So here are the highlights as I remember them.

In short, we still don’t know exactly what happened. The tissue samples show no signs of malignancy. Best as the doctors can tell, Mama developed a benign tumor made entirely of blood that burst.

She was moved from CCU to a private room early last week. The medical professionals made that decision after she removed the device measuring the inner-cranial pressure (i.e., pressure in her brain) herself in the middle of the night. Granted, the pressure had been decreasing regularly over the past week, but she removed it herself. Guhhhhh.

Mama was in the private room for about a week, during which time her comprehension, lucidity, coherence, and general responsiveness varied greatly. Basic physical and occupational therapy routines were initiated during that time, although no real progress was made. Mama also became more and more aggravated by the various medical devices attached to/inserted into her, so she — among other things — pulled out the PIC line used for blood samples. (Amazingly, that resulted in only three small droplets of her blood outside her body — whereas, according to the medical staff, we should have expected pools. Again, she removed it herself. Guhhhhh.)

Earlier this week Mama was moved from UAMS to the residential rehab facility in White County, a mere ten miles from her home. Here she is supposed to get intensive physical and occupational therapy. The original estimate was that she would be here for several months. However, Mama is alternately (a) in intense pain; (b) uncooperative; or (c) antagonistic and/or belligerent. All this makes for the prescribed therapy treatments being very slow going, and thus far she isn’t showing much progress. She has a specialized wheelchair to help support her head and legs, in addition to being strapped into said chair; however, it’s not “meeting her needs,” so the new medical staff is trying to arrange for a more sophisticated chair.

Mama sometimes has periods of near-euphoria wherein she sings — on key and with every single word of the lyrics — at the top of her lungs with carefree abandon. We assumed this was her natural love of and aptitude for music clinging to the remaining shreds of her identity. But the doctors said that music doesn’t work that way; in fact, people who suffer from major brain injuries often don’t recall much of their former lives, but the music familiar to them is mysteriously ingrained and retained. Bummer. (Apparently, pretty much any person with significant brain damage but limited verbal skills can still sing Happy Birthday, which is just weird — and, somehow, comforting.)

Mama has yanked out her own urine catheter the two nights she’s been at the new facility. Again, she removed it herself. Guhhhhh. She’s kept her roommate awake all hours, alternately yelling, singing, moaning, and babbling; the roommate has since been moved to an alternate location, and Mama’s enjoying a “private” room. She sometimes recognizes voices and faces, although she’s recognized and directly addressed me only once. (Tonight she kept asking who the person in the corner with the big head was; it was I.) She has lost virtually all inhibitions, spending a good deal of her time trying to strip naked and/or cursing/saying things she would normally consider inappropriate. (As Daddy said, “I’ve seen more boob, butt and bush in the last twelve days than I’ve seen in the last twelve years. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.”) And yet the core of her personality seems to still be intact, even if her jokes are somewhat juvenile. The best description I can offer is that Mama has the mind of a three- to four-year-old child with extreme ADD.

Next week my sisters, daddy and I are having a family meeting with Mama’s “medical support team.” The social worker has already suggested a facility in Central Arkansas that caters specifically to brain trauma patients, since Mama is showing little progress thus far on either the cognitive or physical fronts. Since the current prognosis is a 25-50% recovery, I’m all for it.

We’ll see what happens next.

Inappropriate Things I’ve Said During This Ordeal

  • To my grandfather, Pop, who’s been bald since he was 22, concerning his wife Bobbie, who’s currently undergoing chemo and is basically hairless: “Now that Bobbie’s having such luck buying her hair off the rack, have you given it any thought?”
  • My entire discourse to the CCU nurse while giving her Mama’s medical history after mentioning Mama’s heavy menstrual flow, which devolved into a free advertisement extolling the virtues of The Keeper.
  • My lengthy discourse on my gastro-intestinal anomalies during those first critical hours wherein not only my immediate and extended family, but also my mother’s pastor, were in the waiting room. Words I may or may not have used: “poot,” “gas,” “fart,” “poop,” “fecal matter,” “turd,” and “shit.”
  • To the entire extended family in the waiting room on the night this all started: “So, this probably isn’t the best time to announce I’m marrying a gay man, huh?”

And finally, thank you for the kind words, thoughts and prayers from everyone, including and certainly not limited to my WD family. I kind of love you guys.



Full Fetal Overload

12:06 am · category: Kids Are All Right, The


Courtesy of my cousin Kim, the midwife.



Name Meme

I stole this from Faith over at That is so Queer. Don’t tell her, though. She has no idea who I am and might be afraid. ;P

(first pet & current car)
Allegra Sable

(favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Mint Chocolate Chip Double Chocolate Milano

3. YOUR “FLY Girl” NAME:
(first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
B Rob.

(favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Lemur. (Please start calling me this immediately.)

(middle name, city where you were born)
Chantel Searcy

(the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

(”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Green KoolAid (Incidentally, I hate green KoolAid. I prefer Tropical Punch.)

(the first names of your grandfathers)
William Louis

(the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Skin Maple Nut Goodie (Bwahahahaha!)


(mother’s & father’s middle names )
Gale Richard

(fifth grade teacher’s last name, city that starts with the same letter
Casey Columbus

(your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Spring Magnolia

(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Pineapple Sandalie

(What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Egg Magnolia

(”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Buffy Watching Hale Tour (Hee!)



That’s Entertainment!

9:02 am · category: Embracing My Inner Geek

Last weekend Rocco and I bought a 1962 Charmette upright piano. I promptly bought $70 in sheet music and hauled out the dozens of piano books and hymnals I’ve collected over the last 25 years.

Now Rocco and I spend our evenings singing showtunes. We are such dorks.

And of course, now I absolutely have to have this, because it has the sheet music included.



Career Meme

(From Min.)

1. Go to Career Cruising,
2. Put in Username: nycareers and Password: landmark.
3. Take their “Career Matchmaker” questions.
4. Post the top twenty results

My Results:
1. Funeral Director (This is exactly what was in the number one spot when I took a career counseling test in eighth grade!)
2. Driving Instructor (My mother is a certified driver’s ed instructor. Ironically, my daddy taught me how to drive.)
3. Professor (I was a teacher for five years. Does that count?)
4. Director
5. Foreign Service Officer
6. Foreign Language Instructor (Oui!)
7. ESL Teacher (Si!)
8. Sport Psychology Consultant (Mwa ha ha ha ha!)
9. Lobbyist
10. Humanitarian Aid Worker
11. Rehabilitation Counselor
12. Postal Clerk
13. Librarian
14. Actor
15. Tour Guide
16. Special Effects Technician
17. Computer Trainer
18. Editor (I’ve done this before!)
19. Occupational Therapist
20. Human Resources Specialist



This Is What’s Going On

8:08 pm · category: The Whole Fam Damnly

During a concert at which she was performing on Saturday evening, my mother’s vision started to blur. After being transported to the local hospital, she said her name was “Rhonda Jail” (It’s Rhonda Gale.), but she couldn’t remember her last name, birth date, etc. Her blood pressure was through the roof (At one point, her systolic reading was 200.). Regardless, she seemed to be stable and vaguely lucid, if not entirely coherent. However, a test (At this point, I can’t remember if it was a CT scan, MRI, or something else.) revealed blood on her brain. She was to be sent to UAMS* Hospital via MedFlight, but a catastrophe on the Louisiana border ended up necessitating the use of the helicopter and she was transported to the new hospital via ambulance.

When Mama arrived at UAMS, the EMTs reported that she had remained conscious and sort of lucid for the bulk of the 60-mile trip. She was admitted and more tests were initiated. During that time her blood pressure continued to fall to more normal levels, with her systolic reading hovering in the 150-160 range. She was intubated and put on a ventilator to make certain she was able to breathe in case anything changed and precluded that. The neurosurgeon who was called in suspected an arterial burst and asked for the family’s permission to drill a small hole in her temple to insert a wire of some sort that would monitor the pressure in her head, among other things. However, ten minutes later he returned and said that the doctor to whom they’d sent the test results via computer (It was approximately 2 a.m. by then.) did not suspect an arterial burst but rather a mass of some sort, so they would not be doing the drill-and-wire thingie. Mama was moved to CCU, and another MRI was scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday morning. I went home at 6 a.m. to get some rest.

At 7:45 a.m. I received a call from one of my sisters saying they had discovered more bleeding on the brain, her vitals were destabilizing, and her blood pressure was rising again. Mama was rushed into emergency surgery, during which they drained as much blood as they could and took tissue samples from her brain around the affected area. She was then returned to CCU.

At this point she remains in CCU with no diagnosis. Her vitals have remained within normal parameters except for the incident prior to the emergency surgery on Sunday morning. She is in a medically induced coma to keep her from trying to remove the ventilator tube and provide her body the opportunity to attempt to begin healing itself. She was given a feeding tube this afternoon, and she fought the insertion and actually pulled it out at one point, so they increased the medication to sustain/vamp up the intentional coma. I’m told her reaction is a good sign.

If things remain as they currently are, they will attempt to take Mama off the ventilator tomorrow and see if she comes around. There is, of course, still no diagnosis, as the test results from the tissue sample have not returned. We do not know if there is a mass and likely will not know for a few more days.

I appreciate the good thoughts and prayers from my internet friends, especially the WD contingent. Grace and Jordan have also been wonderful. Thank you all very much.

*Yes, we do in fact have some top-notch medical facilities in Arkansas, including UAMS, Children’s Hospital, and others.