Wednesday, February 9, 2011


So much good... so much evil... so much confusion.  It's hard to sort it out.

For example:
  • The nurse who told me that I wouldn't become addicted to the hydrocodone or the oxycodone the doctor preferred that I take over the ibuprofen because "You are too strong a person to allow that to happen.  You are motivated."  Is she the last person on the planet to understand that addiction is a disease and not something you choose?  Narcotics over analgesics...... strange.
  • The restaurant which places the handicapped spots in the corner of the parking lot.... and puts the only curb cuts there, too.  Dropped off at the front door, my walker and I were confronted with an 18" high curb..... and blustery winds.... and the fear was tremendous.  Architecturally strange.
  • The hospital bedside commode that accommodates patients who are 5'3" or taller.  The rest of us have our feet dangling, vainly searching for the comfort of the floor.   
  • The young man delivering two heavy boxes of foodstuffs from the up-scale grocery store who refused to take a tip - "Not from that woman!"  Hearwarmingly strange.
  • Keith, the representative from Verizon's sales department, who stayed on the phone with me as I was transferred, like the blip on Atari's Pong screen, from Customer Care (now there is an oxymoron) to Sales and back again, over and over and over.  No one seemed to understand nor have the authority to solve nor the willingness to listen to my problem but Keith, who works on commission and was making nothing by keeping me company, Keith stayed on one leg of the various conference calls for nearly an hour.  Handing me off to Cameron (who did manage to solve the problem) he said goodbye by thanking me for allowing him to learn about the systems in his new job.  Delightfully strange.
  • Marilyn, my hiking buddy and personal shopper, who has made countless trips back and forth to the mall, selecting and sizing and putting together an outfit which would not constrict my sutures, which would be short enough so that I could stand up and not trip, which matched the earrings and bracelet I've been wearing like totems since I've been home, and who shared her personal history of loss and illness with a calm survivor's mien.  Not strange..... just wonderful.
  • A casual acquaintance, a lunch partner from an alumni event, who offered to stop by and talk about God with this cynical heathen.  The Reverend Barb is one of the good ones; I really hope she has an answer or two for me this afternoon.  Strange?  Certainly.  Wonderful? Absolutely!
  • The credit card company (okay, Chase Visa for those of you who might want to reconsider using them) which refused to release the hold they'd placed on my account because I had missed a payment.  The fact that I was lying in a hospital bed, perforated and drugged, when the payment was due made no difference to them.  The fact that it was the only card in TBG's wallet, the fact that we'd never missed a payment before, the fact that the entire world knew what had happened to me..... "Yes, ma'am, it is a sad story but there is nothing I can do."  Strange?  Oh, yes.  Solvable?  Definitely.... the card is in pieces and our new Costco Amex account will fill the bill nicely, thank you very much.  (be sure to read Chase VISA's response by clicking here.  Sometimes companies do "get it")
  • Counselors who don't return phone calls.  Paperwork that is submitted but remains unacknowledged.  Officials who show up unannounced at the door and expect to be welcomed with open arms.  TV news producers who are surprised when their every wish is not gladly accommodated.   Reporters who want to sit on my couch and watch the State of the Union with me.  Strange.... for sure.  Unexpected?  Not really.
  • Four page handwritten notes from total strangers.  A lengthy message on my answering machine from Slava in Latvia, including his phone number so that I could "return this call and continue this conversation."  Raggedy Ann dolls and crocheted angels and Texas blue bells....... does anyone want these outpourings of love?  I know that they come from the hearts of those who are trying to help, but how much of my house can become a shrine to the worst moment of my life?  Balancing their needs against my defenses.... strange indeed.
  • And then there is the blogosphere, where The Burrow has 97 followers.  97 of you demanding that the interweb send you my ramblings every weekday.  On January 7th there were 12 of you - family and friends and Nance - and now there are 97 faithful readers.  Strange and wonderful, all at once.
With apologies for the lateness of this post today (sometimes I am just too tired to type), I thank you all for sharing this peek into the strangeness that has become my life.   It's nice to know that I am not alone.


  1. The nurse who told me that I wouldn't become addicted to the hydrocodone or the oxycodone the doctor preferred ......

    My late husband was told something similar when he was fighting bone cancer. The doc told him that because he needed it, he wouldn't become addicted. I thought it strange as well.

  2. After my third child via C-section, I had a nurse that wouldn't let me have any pain killers. She wanted me to drink green tea for the pain. My OB-GYN went off on her and told her to give me drugs for the pain. Did I become addicted to them? No, but FGS, if someone is in pain, let them have what can get rid of that pain--whether that's the strong stuff or not. "Being strong" doesn't mean one can beat addiction though. I find that whole statement bizarre.

    I too hope that I'm not being intrusive coming here each day. I wish I had known you before such a tragic event. I LOVE your writing and I find it inspirational.

  3. I found you from a mention at Eden Alternative Bill Thomas' website. (He single-handedly is changing nursing care for elders)After going back and reading your many posts about the journey with your Mom, I was hooked. My Mom is in the later stages of the disease and your posts were like I was walking with you. It broke my heart and made me feel akin. The fact that you are front page news was secondary to the story that included your Mom. Now that I've read post-shooting blogs, your insight and strength draw me back to not miss a post. In fact, I'm blogging about you this week. I'll send a link! Keep getting stronger, whatever you have to take or do. Heal the body, then the mind, then both.

  4. My PT just told me the same thing, dawilson. If the medication is used for the purpose for which it is intended the risk of addiction is small. I was just peeved that she thought my moral fiber would keep me from addiction...

    Megan, you are NOT intrusive... you are welcomed and loved and appreciated. Yes, if I need the meds FGS give them to me. But ibuprofen was working just fine... the orthopedist thinks it retards bone growth so sent me back to the narcotics. That, as you say, is bizarre.

    Joycee, I love Bill Thomas. Mom's pod-castle is a close approximation of his Green Houses and that's why we love it so. 16 apartments, dining at a table for 4 with the same familiar faces, no pressure to conform to an institution's rules.... and, as he says, her own bathroom because no older person should have to share THAT space :) I'm glad you were by my side reading about G'ma. We are so lucky to have them around, except when it hurts too much to bear. I'll be looking for the link to your post.... I love being a prompt for a fellow blog-meister!

  5. I love lists. They say so much about a person. You make me think. Sometimes you make me laugh. Sometimes you make me cry. Your words, not you. Oh, what I would give to have my Momma in this world again. Hope your dreams turn from nightmares back to dreams of wonderful impossible moments.

  6. Ah I love a fellow cynical heathen, especially the ones who cut up their credit cards when companies can't accommodate the unbelievable tragedies of life. I read that Congresswoman Giffords asked for toast today. It made me think of you and the wonderful capacity for the body to heal.

  7. Thanks Ashleigh for letting me come on this journey with you--even if it's just a virtual ride. Every morning I come to your blog. I read it before I start my day at the office. I sometimes laugh and sometimes cry. But I always come away feeling that I am blessed to be able to have a glimpse of your remarkable wit and amazing writing.

    On a separate note, I really liked how you handled Chase. How utterly insensitive of them. I really don't like banks, but I do have the Cosco Amex and I like it. I shop there all the time and I get a big check at the end of the year that pays for my membership and more. 5% rebate on gas is nice too. ;) You won't be disappointed in that card.

  8. This post? Strangely satisfying. You cover the gamut, here, a~b. And what a bizarre gamut it is.
    And for the record, right about now I'm falling in love with grocery delivery guys and Verizon clerks named Keith. Because the likes of them really are everywhere, and they balance out the Bozos.

  9. Chase Visa has been evil to me, but THIS is ridiculous. I think it's time to ditch them in your honor. xo

  10. I'm struck by the chords this post touched. I felt like I was whining but you all zeroed in on the absurdity that is the "stuff" in life.

    Thanks for sharing the pain.... it helps to know that I am not the only one who thinks Chase Visa has no heart :)

  11. Thanks for covering all this territory. It's a sure sign you are firing on all cylinders! P.S. - was horrified to discover I had not officially "followed" you. That has been rectified.

  12. I'm reading and commenting simultaneously, so watch for long and disjointed. That's because I couldn't get past the very first item in the list without commenting.

    I'm so glad you brought up the painkiller issue. That nurse is one of many, many in America who still equate painkiller addiction with character, but surely she is the very last MEDICALLY TRAINED person to do so...I fervently hope. No one who has to take actual or synthetic morphine (oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) for a PROLONGED period does NOT become habituated to a particular dose and require at least slightly higher doses for the same effect eventually. Nor does that person NOT experience at least some minor withdrawal, although, where the meds are required, the withdrawal might not be noticeable. And it's still the most effective painkiller we've got for acute, severe pain. It's brain chemistry, not strength of character. Strength of character can prevent recreational use or assist a person to face withdrawal. Period. If you can further public understanding on this score, we'll add that to the huge burden of public service you've been so cruelly handed. (Disclaimer: Not even all the addictionologists agree with me on this. I've heard them speak even lately of "addictive personalities." It's another of my soapbox topics.)

    Maybe someday, when American medicine finally grows up, the same doctor who prescribes it will hand a patient the prescription and say, "And we'll be right here to help you taper it off comfortably and without undue anxiety when you no longer need it."

    And those far-distant handicapped spaces and ramps? Skating on very thin ice--the letter of the law, but by no means the spirit of it.

    Counselors who don't return phone calls? Lemme at 'em. They all have licensing boards, as you and I know so well. If it's a counselor who has talked with you or a family member previously, let's make a noise.

    I absolutely promise not to send you a Raggedy Ann doll, since it sounds like you've already got one. And--shame on me--I must have needed to blog on your blog more than you needed to read a comment this long!

    ILY! Congratulations--Meg made it a nice round 100 Followers today! That's our gal.

  13. I have been hanging out at Time Goes By for quite a few years, and have/had noticed comments by Ashley.
    When I was alerted that you had been hospitalized I too wanted sign your get well card.
    Hard to find the right words.
    Just add me to the list of those who want to protect, not add to the bizarreness of your current life.

  14. I didn't know you before you were "perforated", but I can surmise that you had a great sense of humor, especially for the ironic and the absurd. It still shows, even if you meant to be "whining".

  15. Eek, argh, ahh. Perhaps not in that order, but the responses to such absurdities.

    Just so you know on Google Reader you have 121 subscribers as of 11:54pm. I never really understand the Google follower thing. In fact, I just added myself. Always just followed your RSS feed through Reader previously.

    Take care dear lady,

  16. A/B
    You are not whining. You are just venting about the absurdity of everything after you have been in a horrific tragedy. You are not alone because I dislike Chase Bank because of the way they handled my account before my heart transplant. Their CSR's have very little empathy for circumstances beyond your control (I.E. being shot, waiting for a new heart, etc. )I got the same response from them when I told them I was waiting for a donor heart and there was a good possibility I would be dead if a suitable match was not found quickly. The Chase Customer Service Rep. told me I still had to make my minimum amount due no matter what my circumstances were. Like I was intentionally trying to shirk my financial responsibilities with these bozos not knowing if I would be here on earth the following day. These Chase Customer Service reps. need empathy training if you ask me. They are truly idiots and I will never use any of their banking services ! Although our circumstances are completely different it is the absurdity of everything that still overwhelms me at times even going on six years with a new heart that was donated so I could continue my life's journey. What Christina Taylor and the Green family did with her organs was beautiful because it give someone else's children a second chance at living but it will never bring her back. All that I pray for is that the Green family (John, Roxanna, and Dallas. Jr.) will have the opportunity of meeting her donor families in person in the future. I was lucky enough to get a letter for my donor family telling me who my donor was and a little of the family's background. Finally, I enjoy reading your blog posts because you are a great writer and express your feelings so well through your ruminations. I hope you do not think I am being too intrusive but I want you to know that you have touched people outside of the Tucson, Az area too. God Bless you and your family.

  17. Everyday I wonder what you will share with us next, how what you say will give me new insights into the unthinkable situation that put in touch with you in the first place, and how I can tell you of the respect I feel for someone who can just put their ideas out there for others to benefit from with such eloquence. I have come to realize myself in a recent aha moment that I silenced my own voice, I think as a child. My only sibling was retarded as they called it then, and her different behavior brought a lot of uncomfortable attention to our family. I wanted to be like the wallpaper hiding in the closet. I am also an artist so I was more comfortable with my creativity than my words. Your blog helped that aha moment to surface. Thank you for making me aware of Billy Collins, Your lists of what you've learned, your daughter and your brother and the depth of your sharing. They give me real value to think on each day and I look forward to that. Be well, its important. I have a journal that someone gave me with this saying on the cover, " My favorite old car had no reverse gear. It taught me I could only go forward."

  18. Good morning Ashleigh! Even at your weakest, you inspire and encourage, I shared one of your posts today that touched my heart! Come over to Granny Mountain for a visit...
    Joy C.

  19. I hear you BIG time on the handicapped parking and other accommodations. A dear friend of mine broke her back in 2000 and we have battled this ever since. The world is not made for short, handicapped women. Makes me bitter, sometimes. But, then every so often we come across a place, like a motel on the coast of California, that had the best set up we had ever seen and whose staff bent over backwards to help us. True, you just never know what to expect.

  20. I never realized what handicap people go through until my nine year old's leg was broken by a careless counselor at summer camp. He sat on her leg while going down a water slide and broke both bones in the bottom part of her leg.

    My dd was in a wheelchair for three months and grown-ups were the ones that were jerks. We were at Disney World as a treat for her before she went back to school. Her whole summer had been ruined by being confined to a wheel chair; so we thought this was a great way to boost her spirits. People would complain about her getting to go on rides or using the handicap entrances, the buses would have to use the lifts and we would hear people sighing when they had to wait to get on the bus. It really opened my eyes. Made me angry, but also very sympathetic to people that are disabled.

    Her school was great about it though. All the kids in her class wanted to help her with her lunch and backpack. It was interesting that children were more sympathetic to her ordeal than adults were.

  21. I'd like to add the word "disgusting" to the bit about Chase.

  22. Whining? No way, It is all part of the normal stages to healing! We are all here to support you as and when you feel like blogging, no pressure or time scale. Go with the flow.


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