Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oops! Wrong Color

Friday worked out okay, considering all the things that could have gone wrong. I awoke just before the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. I hadn’t slept well because I was concerned that Saul wasn’t sleeping well with his fractured arm in a sling to keep it somewhat immobilized. Having taken pain killers, he actually slept better than I did, only awakening when he needed to shift his position. Our outside temperature gauge was reading only 8°F., so I dressed in several warm layers and headed out right on time to pick up our friend Larry to drop him off for his colonoscopy. I was right on schedule to drop him off at the clinic as well. Our mutual friend Faith had arranged to pick him up and deliver him home after the procedure.

The sun was beginning to rise as I returned home about an hour later. Adele and I arrived at exactly the same time, around 7:00 a.m. Saul was at the table, having some breakfast, and we joined him, sharing slices of the two different angel food cakes I had baked on Wednesday with cups of tea. Mom joined us at the table about 7:30, very unusual these days. For the last week she has been at the table only long enough to have a few bites before she feels exhausted and needs to go back to bed, 20 minutes approximately. When Saul came into her room after his x-rays on Thursday, she hugged and kissed him, crying in relief that he appeared to be his usual good-natured self, albeit with a very painful arm and hip.

I drove Saul to see Dr. Rubin, who did both of Mom’s hip replacements. We have been using this medical team for 30 years now. His associate, Dr. Junkin, set Jessica’s broken collarbone when she fell out of bed at age two, and did her ACL surgery when she had a skiing accident. The team has treated Saul’s arthritic knees, and Dr. Takei, their hand specialist, diagnosed Mom’s hand problems and performed surgery on my hand as well. Luckily, Saul needed no surgery for the fracture in his radius bone and was given the option of choosing whether or not he wanted to be casted for two weeks. Two weeks is the maximum for which a cast is allowed in this situation, so that his elbow joint will not freeze up. Saul chose to be casted knowing that he would probably inadvertently damage the arm and cause pain with too much moving around.

When the technician came in to cast his arm, she asked him to choose from a variety of colors. Saul is “wardrobe-challenged” and has trouble figuring out whether stripes go with plaids, so he immediately turned to me to choose a color. We debated for a bit, feeling silly about having such a choice in the first place. Would dark colors negate his students being able to sign his cast? The technician assured us that would not be a problem. Would black flake off at home and leave unpleasant traces on the carpeting? The technician made a joke about real men choosing pink. Easy, plain old white was not one of our options. Blue might have been pastel or royal, and we felt silly asking. Valuable time was passing and our indecision was becoming annoying. Finally, I said to get purple because it is Mom’s favorite color and her hospice team is always joking about how she matches her walls and bedspread with her gloves and scarves. Wrong choice. When we spoke to our granddaughters on Friday evening, they told us how they were the only ones in their classes in Baltimore who were wearing Eagles green instead of Ravens purple. How could we have forgotten?! What ribbing Saul will take from his students unless we find some way to cover up the Ravens purple cast.

Once the cast went on, Saul’s pain disappeared for a while. We stopped at Whole Foods and Costco before returning home and bought some wonderful food for Shabbat dinner and the weekend. After we had a quick lunch of new and addictive Tuscan Three Cheese Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips dipped in pine nut hummus, Adele headed for home and Saul and I spent the whole afternoon napping. I arose at 4:00 and prepared my version of the 30-minute meal for just the three of us (Larry was too tired to join us, but his colonscopy was good news). We had homemade challah from the freezer, quick black bean soup, salt and pepper glazed baked potatoes topped with scallion sour cream, pan-sautéed buttery steelhead trout with carmelized shallots and lime, leftover kohlrabi coleslaw, and the angel food cake for dessert.

We were back in bed by 7:30 p.m., but we were all still exhausted this morning. The temperatures outside have been absolutely frigid. This evening Saul and I rearranged our bedroom to switch sides of the bed on which we sleep. The edges of the cast are sharp enough to cut skin in a few places, so we filed them down with an emery board today. The cast itself is so rough that Saul has to sleep with it on top of the covers so as not to rub himself raw, and I was on the wrong side of him and spent the night trying to avoid contact with it.

This afternoon, we were visited by Bob, Mom’s deceased brother Jack’s son, who has really been wonderful about coming to see her from time to time. Bob’s mother, my Aunt Sarah, was more like a sister than a sister-in-law to Mom, and all of us miss her and Uncle Jack dearly. It is hard to believe that they are both gone for so many years. My granddaughter, Samara, is named for Aunt Sarah.

We spent much of the day watching the progress of Barack Obama’s train as it left Philadelphia, stopping in Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland, before its final stop in Washington, DC. The CNN news team we were watching was broadcasting from the frigid outdoor patio at the Newseum, where we took photos when we visited a few months ago. I hope the weather warms up soon!

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