Sunday, June 28, 2009


Where has this month gone? It has been a whirlwind! Haven't had time to blog much and looks like I'll be snowed under until summer school wraps up in a couple weeks. But I'm thrilled that Ash has moved back home with Lys and me after three years of living in England.

Her flight was scheduled to arrive around 2:30 last Sat. so I pulled into the parking garage of the San Francisco International Airport right on time. It was incredibly busy and the arrival sign said her flight was delayed half an hour. Finally, it flashed "arrived", then a bit later "in customs". The passengers began pouring out of the tunnel from customs, hugs and greetings echoing in the terminal, until I looked around (about 4:00) and realized there were only about 10 of us there. At last Ash appeared, carry-on bag in tow. I asked, "Where are your bags?" She said, "They didn't make it on the flight". She'd had a horrible day....

It started early that morning when she left the row house where she had been living, with sad goodbyes to her best friends/roommates. She had checked the tube station schedule to make sure all were open, lugged her three suitcases to the first station, and got as far as the Jubilee Station. There she was informed the station was closed -- she would have to take a bus! Buses, of course, are much slower, and she was not familiar with their routes and connections like she is with the subway. Somehow, despite the hassles and rude replies from grumpy bus drivers, she managed to arrive at Heathrow Airport -- the last person to check in. They took her two check-on bags, mentioning that their conveyor belt was not working. She usually gets to the airport in time to have a little breakfast, but because the bus had taken so long, she had no time to spare. A few hours later she ate the dinky meal offered on the plane -- tired, hungry, and already missing her pals.

So when she arrived in SF, she was even hungrier, and the news that her luggage hadn't made it on the flight was disconcerting. I took her out for a good dinner in Palo Alto on the way home, we came home, put on our jammies, and relaxed with TV. Her bags showed up on our doorstep two days later, and life is getting back to normal for her.

Next week is the 4th of July and I haven't had time to investigate this yet, but rumor has it that Monterey is out of moola so there will be no fireworks. :( Hmmmm. Stay tuned for our 4th of July unfireworks show.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A World Without Words

Speech-Language Pathologists are in short supply here, so during the summer when I have more free time I sometimes pick up some per diem hours at a couple of nursing facilities. It helps me stay current with the medical model of speech therapy vs. the educational model I work in the rest of the year. I used to be the Rehab. Director at one of the facilities I now go into, so there is a sense of familiarity to it. It brings back memories to walk those halls.

This past week I was asked to do an evaluation on a woman who had had a stroke. Her right leg and arm were paralyzed, and when I went in her room to talk to her, I realized she had significant aphasia. She could produce the phrase, "I can understand...." then she would shrug her shoulders and point to her mouth. So I finished her sentence, "...but you can't get the words out." "Yeah," she would nod emphatically. She had another ready phrase, "This is here", which she used to try to explain everything from where her cousin lived to what she had for breakfast, and a couple swear words. That was pretty much the extent of her expressive vocabulary. What was tough with this one was the woman is younger than I am -- she had her stroke at the age of 50. So we engaged in a serious game of 20 questions as I learned more about her and her (limited) abilities.

Dinner time came and she sat in her wheelchair in her room, across from her elderly roommate who was dozing in her chair. I asked her if she would like to eat in the dining room -- a bright, sunny room, with a big screen TV set to some upbeat sitcoms. She smiled and said, "yeah!" So I checked in with the nurse, got the go ahead, and wheeled her down to the dining room. Apparently no one had thought to ask her where she would prefer to eat in the 3-4 days she had been there. The nurse had her tray delivered, and I made sure she had a ring side seat to watch TV while she ate.

As I got ready to leave a little later, she motioned me over. She grabbed my hand, and with tears in her eyes, she managed to say, "Thank you." It moved me tremendously, and I thought about that moment all the way home. Now I'm at a loss for words to express what I learned, wrapped up in that afternoon we spent communicating.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

It's official--I'm on vacation! The school year ended last Friday, and until the middle of next week (when I do a four week, half day stint of summer school), I'm off work. This morning I spent time in my yard, trying to figure out which sprinklers were out of whack and leaving behind the dry patches. Lys is on a road trip this week, Ash moves back home from college the end of next week.... So I have a list of sweet nothings to do during this time off:
-sleep in (this usually means sleep 'til 7:00 instead of 6:00)
-listen to music (any kind I want, when I want)
-sing to the music (any way I want, when I want)
-work on photo albums and journals
-walk on the beach
-catch up with friends
-watch guilty-pleasure TV (including reruns of Desperate Housewives and sappy romantic comedies)
-send letters to my school children/friends in Africa
-yell out loud at the missed baskets while watching The Lakers vs. The Magic finals
-have a pedicure at the salon
-write articles and poetry
-play with the dogs
-perfect the art of all the ways to serve strawberries

Ahhh--the sweet days of summer.