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sometimes it /can/ be stressed strongly enough

I‘m back from Richmond, and I’m beat, after only two days. I’m not sure how Mom deals with the stress as seemingly well as she does, being much more directly faced with Dad’s hospitalization on a day-to-day basis; she does break down in tears every now and then, but I don’t see the same kind of physical manifestations I’m starting to see in myself—restless nights and grinding teeth, acid reflux, chest pain, backache, flagging libido, etc. I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed again by the confluence of factors from work, home, car and family, similar to what I felt two years ago when I had the layoff, car accident, and family health problems all at once, which turned into a depression of sorts. Until just the past couple of days I’d felt like I’d been retaining a sense of perspective and ability to function, but now I’m beginning to feel like my coping skills might be over-taxed. At work it’s been a struggle to retain my tact and calm, skills my boss normally recognizes and for which she counts on me; at home I’ve been avoiding taking phone calls from anyone except my mom, my sister and Jeff. And I’m guessing that Jeff is just too polite and tactful himself to be honest about what a drag I’m being, given my level of fatigue, distraction and general whininess.

On the positive side, Mom regained power at her temporary apartment in Richmond on Friday, after just over a week without. She’s much more comfortable now that she can wash her clothes, keep food in the refrigerator and cook in. And I left a laptop with her so that she can check her email, at least.

Dad’s temperature, which earlier I had reported had returned to normal, actually still continues to fluctuate quite a bit, though at least it is no longer hitting the very high spikes of a week ago. Mom also is encouraged that he is shrugging his shoulders slightly and occasionally, insistent that this means the paralysis is retreating. I’m less convinced, unsure that this is truly a sign of recovery already or just a result of his being less sedated now than previously; I’m not sure that the paralysis had ever fully engulfed his shoulders, and it certainly had never involved his neck, which he has been able to move back and forth, when agitated, except when in the very deepest level of sedation.

On the less positive side, when I arrived Saturday morning we were kept out of the CCU because a sputum specimen taken from his lungs showed a very, very minute possibility that he also had contracted TB. Skin tests have continued to show negative, but the doctor says that while he doesn’t actually believe that Dad has TB, “a couple of cells on a slide containing three to four hundred looked slightly suspicious,” enough so that they needed to take the precaution of moving him to a negatively pressurized, isolation room. This has the effect of requiring us to put on robes (though by yesterday afternoon they had dispensed with that requirement at least), masks and rubber gloves when we visit him; it also results in much less traffic into the room even by the hospital staff, so that Mom now feels even more alone—and, I think, a little claustrophobic—while visiting.

And my car started experiencing problems again on the trip down and back, to the point that I’m now walking to work and will likely have to rent a car to get back and forth between here and Richmond the next couple of weekends until I can buy a new car. Toyota now is reporting that demand for the new Prius is much higher than anticipated and possibly higher even than is planned for production; 10,000 (of only 36,000 slotted to be produced) already have been pre-ordered by previous Prius owners, and the wait for new orders will be on the order of months. Since I now need a car more immediately than I had hoped, and both of my first choices—the Prius and the Mini—have months-long waiting lists, I need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new, less desirable but more available choice that I might be able to purchase more readily.

And I still haven’t done anything about getting the heating and cooling system in my condo replaced.


If you want any recommendations on cars, I love my Saturn. They’re really good cars.

You know, if your heart is not set on the 2004 Prius (mine is already ordered, it comes in December some time), you can buy one of the 2003 models right off the lot usually! I’m very happy with my 2001 model, so I can only assume that the latest one probably has some of the kinks ironed out; and it still gets incredible mileage and is one of the greenest cars you can get. With your commute, you’d probably put gas in it once every other month. To Richmond and back, you’d barely use 1/4 tank.
Think about it.
I’d sell you my old one, but I need it until December mysefl!

Cornelia: The first car I ever bought for myself was a 1992 Saturn SC and I was quite an evangelist of the “Saturn Way” for a number of years. After GM folded Saturn back into their general operations, though, I was less satisfied with Saturn. And I always hated the huge turning radius on Saturns. My best friends Sheldon and Lisa, though, also seem to be very happy with their new Saturn, the Saturn VUE.

Gene: In August, the Toyota dealer in Alexandria didn’t even have a 2003 Prius to test-drive, much less to sell (and I checked inventory at a few other dealers in the mid-Atlantic, with the same result). And I do rather have my heart set on the 2004, though an earlier model would certainly beat getting some other car that I not only don’t have my heart set on, but don’t really want.

It’s so weird not to be able to talk to my dad about this and solicit his advice.


mint 190 banner image adapted from Lovely vintage Mercedes photo by June Shieh (misocrazy), cc Attribution 2.0