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trapped in a world he did not create

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We hate to deliver this sad news, but on May 4, 2009, Thomas Allen Heald, known as tomalhe, passed away.

A tribute page is posted at

This update is being done by friends of his who will miss him dearly.

Current Mood:
peaceful peaceful
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Pepper Joplin Heald, my 13 year old Shi Tzu, has perhaps a day at best says the veterinarian. “Don’t even bother feeding him.” “We’ve done all that’s medically possible.”

Holding and brushing Pepper only does so much. He’s barking because of pain that’s hard to nail down. Some of it is his difficulty moving, a lot internal.

At least the growing death howls let us know he’s still alive. Even though one can’t help but just wish he could be out of pain — the family has decided against induced “sleep” — which prolongs the pain and sorrow for us.

I’ve been brushing and petting him and occasionally trying to interest him in water. Can’t tell whether I’m helping or annoying the dog — who’s starving to death, and bleeding from his spleen, anemic, and having his red blood cells eaten by his immune system.

Most communication is a barking whether he moves or tries to get up … and a pained one at that, but at least we know he’s alive (sort of.) At the moment it’s a cross between a smoke detector and a barking seal.

And I’m on jury duty in 24 hours, so that should be fun. Neither the dog or I can sleep. Though if no barking for an hour, I worry.

So he can’t eat or breathe and seems to have some manner of canine AIDS, at least in some kind of completely compromised immune system.

It was suggested a few days ago, he might have eaten a poison. So we’ve no idea whether he licked his paws and ingested some of the melted road de-icer or swallowed a dropped pill for one of the family ailments.

So that’s a compounding freakout on top of everything else.

I’ve started a playlist (I guess in tribute?) at

We both finally did get to sleep.

Me with a clock radio turned on a couple rooms away. The last thing I did was re-adjust Pepper in his bed to his other side not that it apparently mattered. He was just in pain regardless of position. At least the yelping picked back up shortly thereafter. And I don’t know, around 9 a.m., I drifted off until about 6 p.m., hoping and not hoping the dog would … not be in pain and agony.

Pepper, who moved in bursts, crawled all the way across the house and laid down at dad’s feet and had company in his final moments. Finally gave in about 10 a.m., an hour after I decided I had to get some sleep for jury duty.

And the bed is now gone, his food is packed up in bags his bowls are emptied. His ropes are nowhere to be found. Dad apparently did all the C.S.I and crime scene cleanup.

I used to have a dog. We used to have a dog.
Current Mood:
depressed depressed
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as the local symphony played the all american yet fundementally hokey works of Aaron Copland (hey its the song from Sam Elliot's "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercials!) i noted the absurdity of the Apalachian Spring Suite's "Variations on Simple Gifts" (the Amish/shaker melody "Tis a Gift to be Simple") its just rather oxymoronic. Simplicity and 8 different themes of it blasting at once from the players ...

it has inspired (and it is always a bad idea to say what inspires you because people will always guess the wrong reason) me to do one of my next columns on childrens picture books ...

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So i'm in the new Starbucks bathroom and I notice the paper towel dispenser.

Not only does it remind the employees they are required to wash their hands there are actually 6 diagrams WITH WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS underneath that reminder ... on how to wash your hands.

1. turn on faucet.

I think they need to improve the job applications if they really hire people who need six. Two diagrams seemed has always seemed excessive on a hand dryer.

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I have now seen footage of the "tickle me elmo" tenth anniversary doll. The Chucky the Good Guy doll from the Child's Play movies is less scary...
Current Location:
somewhere under the rainbow
Current Mood:
awake awake
Current Music:
like the sands through the hourglass
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MSNBC: Imus, Scarboring, and the two saving (not Nancy) graces Alison Stewart and Keith Olbermann.

CNN: Anderson Cooper, Larry King, and Christiane Amanpour. (Meh at this point.)

Fox News Channel: The coach who snapped you with towels, the cheerleaders he watched through a peephole, and the closeted gay men who want careers.

You know who really deserve to run cable channels? Three men: Bill Maher, Morgan Spurlock and Penn Jilette.

A half hour to an hour of HBO's "Real Time," FX's "30 Days," or Showtime's Bulls, hit!" contain more truth and urban legend debunking than an entire year of Dateline, a decade of Fox News, and most any commercial network broadcast that bills itself as news. I've just started watching the (seemingly short) 6 episode first season DVD of "30 Days" (which considering the hundreds of hours of footage for every show that Spurlock and R.J. Cutler's editors have to hack down to fill 44 minutes is reasonable.)

Already, I have two people who need to see two of these shows. One a political biggie I know and the other a younger family relation.

Maher, Jilette, and Spurlock will willingly admit their biases but they are truly fair (if not more than necessary) with their subjects and are willing to let both sides of any matter actually speak. (As opposed to giving your side and pretending to explain what the other side allegedly believes. And while they are all comedians, as another monologist Rick Reynolds notes, "only the truth is funny."
Current Location:
home, on the range...
Current Mood:
tired tired
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NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is amazing. Simply amazing. A show about why tv sucks on a network that for the most part sucks. Matt Perry and Brad Whitford play ... Matt Perry and Aaron Sorkin in a thinly veiled SNL. Take all the frustration that Sorkin has had with the networks over Sportsnight and West Wing, the increasing annoyance of morals groups putting the fear of ... higher powers into creatives who then put out things like ... "Joey."

Im only about 10 minutes into the pilot of "Kidnapped." Unlike Fox's similar in theme "Vanished," or "Prison Break," It's nice to watch a show unfold. Delroy Lindo is great, it's nice to get to know the family dynamic, nice to know that there is a purpose, however mysterious behind the "Kidnapping." "Vanished," by comparison is a complete mess, going after 10 theories at a time, assuming there could be dozens of conspiracies at work, and DaVinci code tattoos and political theories and is she dead or alive ... Kidnapped has substance and meat, while Vanished has style and a spirograph of circles to run in.
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Should you feel complimented or creepy when at 36 someone half your age outrageously hits on you for sex?
Current Mood:
confused confused
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Monday night, August 7, 2006

"(She don’t try to hide it) / People say she's crazy. She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes. Well that’s one way to lose these walking blues: diamonds on the soles of her shoes. She was physically forgotten then she slipped into my pocket with my car keys. She said you've taken me for granted, because I please you wearing these diamonds..." -- Paul Simon

The things we all take for granted. They give Mom sponge baths, but whether they wash her feet or not, it seems as though she’s been wearing the same pair of skid proof periwinkle sock/booties with blue diamonds on since last week. Probably another $5 added onto the room service bill, as it were, but she's got a new pair and the others will be washed out.

Another routine right of ours is swallowing. Still on the ice chips. she may be able to swallow water again in a few days. But one tube out, several more to go. One taped and retaped and retaped has been taken out of her nose. She still has one nostril nuisance for oxygen support but not one draining ... one odd looking fluid or another.

She thinks by now she's seen the head of every department. Of course. By now they all know how special you are. (And please don't sue us for negligence/malpractice.)

One day Mom's tall dark and handsome caretaker has a name tag that says "James," the next it says he's "Eddie." Same guy. It sees after a few months working shifts there he reveals to his coworkers that they've been calling him the wrong name all along. James it is. [I appreciate the charm of this. Whenever I see a stack of "HELLO, MY NAME IS" adhesive name tags, want to (and occasionally do) write "Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."] I do ask his other nurse for the night, (who says "He'll always be 'Eddie' to me") which of "James" or "Eddie" is the evil twin. She laughs as we both watch "Days of our Lives."

She gets a kick out of the fact that there's one doctor on the show who specializes in everything from triage to fertility and DNA to pediatric organ transplants. (Dr. Lexie is a former cop, who studied for, though may not have ever spent a day at med school.) My soap habit stretches back to my own time in the hospital with a ruptured appendix (Friday the 13th September 1985). Distracting me from my own pain were "Jeopardy!" in the afternoons, new episodes of "Fame" on the weekend, "The Wuzzles" cartoon (I did get Mom to buy me the hybrid EleRoo stuffed toy a purple and orange striped half elephant/half kangaroo the morning I saw it) Rock Hudson is rapidly dying of AIDS on the newscasts (Oh God, did I have a blood transfusion?), and hey who's that guy in the pirate eyepatch stalking the blonde woman... 21 years later, "Days of our Lives" still gives me something to talk about with women.

Mom's new roommate just got married on Saturday. The scruffy looking groom wanders in to see his betrothed in bed #2. As he asks "hey, you got a snack yet?," I'm really hoping he's the groom. I flash back to the times we'd visit my bipolar Korean War vet uncle at Veterans Administration hospital at Fort Meade outside Sturgis. Disheveled men in a variety of official gowns and moth-eaten bathrobes would roam the halls bumming cigarettes or coffee machine funds or hitting on visitors and/or their wives and daughters with material from Bob Hope specials. Even before VCRs or DVD players, somehow M*A*S*H was always playing on a 9 inch black and white screen in every common room. The happy (well, in theory) couple is here on the same hospital floor because of the Sturgis motorcycle rally and a motorcycle collision.

We're told that once Mom does head home (which we really aren't prepared for yet with moving of furniture or packing away clothing) she'll be on a colostomy bag for six months. Mom asks, "Won't be fun helping me change all these dressings and emptying colostomy bags?" "That’s why she has a loving husband," I respond. But not a loving son," counters Dad."Get the older loving son to do all this first," I dare. "He lives farther away from her than you do." Yeah, why do you suppose that is?"

On the way out of the hospital, I notice the worn sign in the elevator that tells us that in the rare emergency situation that we are trapped inside, "PLEASE BE PATIENT." That's the direct opposite of our plan at the Moment.

Tuesday night, August 8, 2006
If one paid attention to Moon Unit Zappa, being "totally tubular" was a good thing. I happen to like "What Do You Want From Life?" by "The Tubes," myself. Mom's tubes however have been far from "bitchin'" and all things considered "gagging her with a spoon," because she can't "go to the galleria."

She is, at the very least, now freed from the finger-pinching, red lit oxygen monitor (on her "E.T." finger.) And able to take another significant baby step: sips of water. And she's increasing her lung power day by day.

She still 24 hours later hasn't had the new socks put on. (If you want something done ... ask a nurse. If they dont do it ... ask another nurse.) Marla got the new ones in the room and on her desk last night, but James/Eddie at least got the old socks off tonight.

The clear plastic "how much can you breathe" machine has a name -- Incentive Spurometer (which i think was one of Groucho Marx's names in "A Night at the Opera." Does it spur her on? If not, I'm pretty sure they have actual spurs in one of the cabinets outside.

I brought the dog, a few rainbows from last night to Mom via the laptop. I waited until after the new blonde nurse, aka "todays nurse," was in to check pulse, blood pressure. Not knowing if I'd raise or lower it with thoughts of forbidden pleasures, of a sort.

Bad ideas run in the family, it's not just my Brother. My paranoid hypochondriac jailbird / explosives expert / detective / vet / uncle's common law wife calls Mom daily with each new illness / calamity (she fell and broke her $400 Walmart recliner, which they bought rather than having ... running water). An actual sister in law (Dad's side) also called tonight to share her misery (breathing, back problems).

In other good news, we can have a home care nurse in to change bags and dressings for... "a while." I've completely changed my mind about Medicare/Medicaid buying one of these $3,000 souped up Rascal/Hoverround electric go-cart "mobility" chairs. A debate should never be made personal.

Mom assumes her back is a mess with all the taping of tubes and itching an epidural. Oh, and wiping out every message from every "ABC AfterSchool Special" -- "Morphine is really nice."

The bride and groom motorcyclists, who were hit by a truck on their way to the Sturgis Rally have been released. Every other day there's an empty bed closer to the window with each new roommate heading home after a single day. Maybe Mom should switch beds when they ask. With a semi-private room it's easier to determine that she's the person with something beeping. Tonight's weird new alarm? Well that just means this device has it's got a low battery and needs to be plugged into the wall. (Should we ask why it's not always hooked into the wall?)

And another advance just as we leave for the night ... apple juice!

Wednesday afternoon, August 9, 2006
A quick drop in visit with an actor friend of mine, Eric Johnson, a former student of Mom's. A new face brightens her spirits, and Eric lets her know that a sister of his made it through the same things. "You know, it's tough, but survivable." Eric has even offered to get a copy of the archive film of "The Man Who Came to Dinner," the Black Hills Playhouse show he's starring in that she'll be missing while laid up here and ultimately recovering at home.

My Brother has made it his mission to go attempt to cheer Mom up every day. (Yes, I know, it seems downright counterintuitive, but with getting dentist's appointments and other schedule modifications done, we haven't let her psychiatrist know what's been going on). One of Mom's concerns is that the regular hour (or two) lunch get-togethers going out to eat on Mondays and Fridays with my brother won't be possible with her trapped at home. But whether it's just making sandwiches out of luncheon meat at home or bringing in takeout food (which she'll probably pay for herself), my Brother is committed to ... something or another. We'll be generous and call it "helping out."

James/Eddie, the nurse doesn't know who he is today. He'll been called a lot worse things already than either name he goes by.

It's incrimental progress for Mom who's finally up to bland food. A grape popsicle for breakfast (which I certainly never got to have growing up), and some potato soup and pudding.

At home, Dad has finished building a portable wood closet for the garage as the minor remodel commences. I'm still thinking that to handle all the shoes and decades of forgotten dresses and outfits by her beside (and underneath it) we need several 20 gallon tubs just to Tupperware them up in storage until they can be sorted through (if ever). We're not prepared for her triumphant return. This we know. Another hard to accept fact -- this will not be a short story.

Thursday night, August 10, 2006
"I call my baby. Baby I say Debbie get up get up, its time to get yourself together. It's such a beautiful day outside. Simple pleasures are the best. Yes, they are." -- Bobby McFerrin

Arriving in the hospital room, even if Mom's asleep, there is usually somthing a minute later that wakes her up. A monitor or a telephone ring, or a buzzer whether it's in room 603 or down the hallway. She's asleep today. Unlike her husband who often accidentally dings the trash can with his foot, or sets down a bag or package, I let her continue her slumbers. I'm not going to make that decision for her if sleep may be the best thing for her.

There's a new peace plant by the sink, and I almost feel sorry for her new roommate du jour. It's been a week and there are bud vases and bouquets and bouquets and bouquets -- from friends, from work, from inlaws, from us. There are more flowers here than in Martha Sewart's conservatory, ballroom (and any of her other rooms from the Clue board game). Yes, people care a great deal about your well being. Cards, letters, email via the hospital website, ecards. It's hard to express things we frequently should without a gift, or assistance from one of the Cyranos at Hallmark. Personally, I hate sympathy cards. I didn't know the person nearly as well as you did. I don't know if they're headed for a better place. I don't know all that I don't know.

A biker wanders into the room looking for his wife. He thinks mom must be the new roommate. We are definitely not the droids he's looking for.

It's dinner time, and for a clear liquid diet, it's actually closer to a non hospital dinner than she's had in a while. Orange sherbet, cranberry juice, an unidentifiable tan-ish soup, (it's not potato, and it's not a clear broth. Chickenless vegetable-free gumbo?) and coffee, (which dad drinks for her, and we alert the nurses to this so they don't miscount her fluid and nutrient intake). Like myself, mom has never taken to coffee. The cafeteria sets its own menu each morning. Full or clear liquid is the choice. It may be coffee one day and iced or hot tea another. Mom can always request hot tea, she's told. (She's the type of person who probably won't. It might inconvenience the nurses.)

Advance of the day: the catheter's out. This is of course, something they didn't announce to her until she noticed one less apparatus. Now having to make it to the patient bathroom on her own, she's glad she hadn't found out about this development serendipitously. The colostomy bag will deal with her other waste disposal for a half year. She's disgusted by the thought, but as my brother is kind enough to note, it's part of life whether sick or well.

The new catchphrase is "You're Not Really Helping." If can be applied to dad mentioning that there are terrorists attacks over in England too, where an airmail salutation was sent by a friend's daughter. "They probably think we're all screwed up over here" notes mom. ("Well, look at why you've been here all week," I counter).

The new word from the hospital is, mom's intestinal wall was weak in the first place, so even if it is entirely their fault, it's "less" of their problem? She might have wound up in the hospital anyway and it's better to deal with this sooner than later. Ahem, Y.N.R.H.!

Mom does still have something "hand grenade shaped" to be dealt with on her side, she says. And I thought I was going for the "Reader's Digest" direction of "Toward More Picturesque Speech." Hopefully, whatever it is, doesn't explode.

Dad is prepared for the changing of bags and bandage application (which he'll be seeing in movie form tomorrow. I'd rather see "Talladegah Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby" if those were my only choices). What he's not ready to deal with is an augmentation of her previous depression. For someone who watches more "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil" than even Oprah" or Dr. Phil, the theraputic themes seem lost on her. "What I can't do." "What I won't be able to do." Variations on the theme were all she really talked about today. An evil night nurse tells her "she sleeps too much during the day." Even if this is true, I say, she probably wants you to fight her and prove to her that you can inspire her and eventually come back and then beat her up.
Current Mood:
artistic artistic
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the movie meme

X off the ones you've seen. Score over 80 and call yourself a movie whore.

( )Pirates of the Caribbean
( )Boondock Saints
( )The Mexican
(X )Fight Club
( )Starsky and Hutch
( )Neverending Story
(X )Blazing Saddles
( )Garden State
(X)The Princess Bride
(X)Young Frankenstien
( )AnchorMan
(X)Napoleon Dynamite
( )Saw
(X)White Noise
( )White Oleander
(X)Anger Management
( )50 First Dates
( )Jason X
(X)Scream 2
(X)Scream 3
(X)Scary Movie
(X)Scary Movie 2
(X)Scary Movie 3
(X)American Pie
( )American Pie 2
( )American Wedding
(X)Harry Potter
(X)Harry Potter 2
( )Harry Potter 3
( )Resident Evil I
( )Resident Evil 2
(X)The Wedding Singer
( )Little Black Book
( )The Village
(X)Donnie Darko
( )Lilo & Stitch
(X)Finding Nemo
( )Finding Neverland
( )13 Ghosts
(X)The Grinch
( )Texas Chainsaw Massacre
( )White Chicks
(X)Butterfly Effect
( )13 Going On 30
(X)I, Robot
( )Dodgeball
( )Universal Soldier
( )A Series Of Unfortunate Events
( )Along Came A Spider
( )Deep impact
(X)King Pin
(X)Never Been Kissed
( )Meet the parents
( )Meet the Fockers
( )Eight Crazy Nights
( )A Cinderella Story
(X)The Terminal
( )The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( )Passport to Paris
( XDumb and Dumber
( )Dumb and Dumberer
(X)Final Destination
(X)Final Destination 2
( )Halloween
(X)The Ring
( )The Ring 2
(X)Harold & Maude
( )Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
( )Practical Magic
( )Ghost Ship
(X)From Hell
( )Secret Window
( )Sam I Am
( )Whole Nine Yards
( )The Whole Ten Yards
( )The Day After Tomorrow
(X)Child's Play
(X)Bride of Chucky
(X)Ten Things I Hate About You
( )Just Married
(X)Nightmare on Elm Street
( )Sixteen Candles
( )Bad Boys
( )Bad Boys 2
(X)Joy Ride
(X)Oceans 11
(X)Oceans Twelve
( )Identity
( )Lone Star
(X)Predator I
(X)Predator II
( )Independence day
( )Cujo
( )A Bronx Tale
( )Darkness Falls
( )Christine
( )Children of the Corn
( )My boss' daughter
( )Maid in Manhattan
( )Frailty
( )Best Bet
( )How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
( )She's All That
( )Calendar Girls
(X)Mars Attacks
( )Event Horizon
(X)Ever After
(X)Forrest Gump
( )Big Trouble in Little China
(X)X-Men 1
(X)X-Men 2
(X)Catch Me If You Can
(X)The Others
(X)Freaky Friday
(X)The Hot Chick
( )Swimfan
( )Miracle
(X)Old School
( )Ray
( )The Notebook
(X)Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(X)Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
( )Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
( )A Walk to Remember
( )Boogyman
( )Hitch
(X)The Fifth Element
(X)Star Wars episode I The Phantom Menace
(X)Star Wars episode II Attack of The Clones
( )Star Wars episode III Revenge of The Sith
(X)Star Wars episode IV A New Hope
(X)Star Wars episode V The Empire Strikes Back
(X)Star Wars episode VI Return of The Jedil
( )Troop Beverly Hills
(X)Swimming with Sharks
(X)Air Force One
( )For Richer or Poorer
( )Transporter 1
( )Transporter 2
(X)People under the stairs
(X)Blue Velvet
(X)Sound Of music
(X)Parent Trap
(X)The Burbs
(X)The Terminator
( )Empire Records
(X)SLC Punk
( )Meet Joe Black
( )Wild Girls
(X)A Clockwork Orange
(X)The Order
(X)Spiderman 2
( )Amelie
( )Mean Girls
(X)Shrek 2
(X)The Incredibles
( )Collateral
( )The Fast & The Furious
( )2 Fast 2 Furious
( )Sky Captain Of The World Of Tomorrow
( )Closer
(X)Bowling For Columbine
( )Fahrenheit 9/11
( )Roger and Me
( )The Big One
( )Unbreakable
(X)The Sixth Sense
(X)Artificial intelligence (AI)
( )Love actually
( )Shutter
( )Ella Enchanted
( )Princess Diaries
( )Princess Diaries 2
( )Constantine
( )Million Dollar Baby
( )Envy
( )Eurotrip
( )Malibu's Most wanted
(X)Big Daddy
(X)Black Sheep
(X)The Breakfast Club
(X)West side story
(X)A Christmas Story
( )Spanglish
(X)Pulp Fiction
(X)Jackie Brown
(X)Reservoir Dogs
(X)Kill Bill
(X)Kill Bill 2
( )Sleepover
( )The Evil Dead
( )Killer Klowns From Outer Space
(X)The Seed of Chucky
(X)Vanilla Sky
(X)Nightmare Before Christmas
(X)Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
(X)Interview With The Vampire
(X)The Crow
(X)Purple Rain
(X)Wayne's World
(X)Wayne's World 2
( )21 Grams
(X)Edward Scissorhands
(X)Beauty and the Beast
( )Guess who
( )Monster In-Law
( )Elf
(X)Stuart Little
( )Stuart Little 2
(X)Mall Rats
(X)Chasing Amy
(X)Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
( )The Last Samurai
( )The Amityville Horror
( )The Aviator
(X)Romeo and Juliet
( )Beauty Shop
(X)Legally blonde
(X)Legally blonde 2
( )The Forgotten
( )Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen
( )Confessions of A Dangerous Mind
(X)The Grudge
(X)Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
(X)Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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