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ndebord
February 11th, 2006, 11:45 PM
My grandfather died in 1970... and I still miss him.

Judy,

Sigh. Well, I'm about to lose my mother-in-law. The woman never met a doctor in a waiting room until now. Played Mahjong 7 days a week and last Saturday collapsed as she entered her Senior Citizen Center for her 8am game. Double Pneumonia. Today, unexpectedly she took a turn for the worse. It looked like she had beat the bug, but her lungs were damaged from stomach acid and she stopped breathing, then her heart went and she's on the machines now. We're hoping she'll go peacefully in her sleep and that uneless there one big miracle and her lungs suddenly improve, that the doctors will not take unnecessary methods to keep her going. She was lucky that when her heart shut down a nurse was in the room, so muscle damage was minimal.

Just yesterday she was sitting up and demanding to go home so she could get back in her game. We know she doesn't want to live on machines, so we don't want them to wake her back up unless they tell us she'll recover somehow.

:-(

earler
February 12th, 2006, 04:01 AM
How old is she?

-er

Mike Landi
February 12th, 2006, 10:21 AM
I'm sorry to hear this, Nick. May this end peacefully and with as little paid as possible.

ndebord
February 12th, 2006, 11:16 AM
How old is she?

-er

Earle,

If you believe her HK passport, she's 77. But in reality she's 81 or 82. All records were destroyed during WWII by Japanese bombs. So she just substracted a few years when they recreated her papers so she could emigrate to the "Golden Mountain" in the 60s and work longer in NYC's Chinatown sweatshops.

ndebord
February 12th, 2006, 11:24 AM
I'm sorry to hear this, Nick. May this end peacefully and with as little paid as possible.

Mike,

Yes, we don't want her to wake up and find herself locked into her worst fears: machines. She's done O.K. in this life. Kids, grandkids and family that cares. Her husband passed 3 years ago and for 6 years prior was wheelchair bound. Didn't like SS people, so I shuttled him to various doctors every other week or so for that time. Used to complain that the doctors deliberately scheduled their visits on different days of the week just to piss off the laowai!

The point, I guess, is that after he passed, she had 3 good years without any worries and no sickness and she always said she wanted to go fast and no machines. SO we'll see what this crew of doctors will do here.

Judy G. Russell
February 12th, 2006, 02:16 PM
Oh Nick... I'm so sorry. I hope she makes a miraculous recovery, or barring that at least that it can end painlessly.

earler
February 12th, 2006, 03:40 PM
She's not really all that old. But, given her life I suppose she's really older than her real age. I hope she passes on peacefully.

-er

ndebord
February 12th, 2006, 10:16 PM
Oh Nick... I'm so sorry. I hope she makes a miraculous recovery, or barring that at least that it can end painlessly.

Judy,

That is my hope too. I have my doubts with these doctors though. Her ibrain is probably ok (she's sedated right now) and her heart was saved by the fortuitous presence of a nurse in the room when she went into arrest.

The bad news is that the X-Rays came back and her lungs are in real bad shape, pneumoniatis as she asperated back into her lungs and the acid did her lungs no good.


What I'm afraid of is that they decide to keep her alive on machines because she is not brain dead, but with no hope of ever coming off the machines or perhaps a specious hope that somehow, in some indefinite future time, her lungs will repair themselves somehow. If there is one thing she never wanted it was to be hooked up on machines at the end of her life. This is a woman who lived life fully, albeit comnpulsively. She played 8 hours of Mahjong every single day. Never sat still for a moment If there is ever to be a monument to hyperactivity, it should be dedicated to her.

I don't want her to wake up unless they can fix the lungs. If she wakes up like this, it is her worst nightmare. Tomorrow we spend the time in ICU. There will be a neurologist who will chime in and who knows what the outcome will be.

ndebord
February 12th, 2006, 10:20 PM
She's not really all that old. But, given her life I suppose she's really older than her real age. I hope she passes on peacefully. -er

Earle,

She's lived a full life, but not an easy one. Walked almost all the way on foot from HK to Cholon in WWII when the Japs bombed the city. Came here and made a good life for her family in Chinatown.

Should have seen a doctor but lived life her way and brooked no interference.

Judy G. Russell
February 12th, 2006, 10:49 PM
Sure doesn't sound good, Nick. All I can do is offer sympathy and a virtual shoulder.

ndebord
February 12th, 2006, 11:01 PM
Sure doesn't sound good, Nick. All I can do is offer sympathy and a virtual shoulder.

Judy,

Well, I generally don't get this worked up and didn't want to onload, but this has been going on since last Sunday now and it was looking good until yesterday and now I wish I lived in Oregon.

Judy G. Russell
February 13th, 2006, 07:59 AM
This is certainly something to get worked up about, Nick. I wish it wasn't so...

Mike Landi
February 13th, 2006, 08:46 AM
She sounds like a great lady. I hope she does not suffer or wake up wishing she was not being "cared for".

Take care, this is never easy.

ndebord
February 13th, 2006, 06:52 PM
This is certainly something to get worked up about, Nick. I wish it wasn't so...

Judy,

Oh Hell. Our/Her worst nightmare. She's awake now and they're talking permanent tube in the trachea for oxygen. The neurologist came in today and she pretended to be brain dead. he held up 2 fingers and asked her to do the same and she just laid there. (All this in Cantonese) Of course, before he was in the room, she was talking to my brother-in-law, her son with no problems. She's tied down now because she keeps trying to remove the tubes and that they won't allow.

And there is nothing we can do. My Wife and her brother signed a DNR, but this falls into that legal grey area of whose view of "Do no Harm" do you believe in. We have differing views on how you define barbaric behavior here and the medical profession has an institutional position that is at odds at what we believe she wants.

ktinkel
February 13th, 2006, 08:02 PM
I'm about to lose my mother-in-law. I am so sorry. We have been there (although no oneís story is quite like another).

Be well.

Judy G. Russell
February 13th, 2006, 11:07 PM
Oh Nick... I am so sorry... my heart goes out to all of you...

ndebord
February 13th, 2006, 11:39 PM
She sounds like a great lady. I hope she does not suffer or wake up wishing she was not being "cared for".

Take care, this is never easy.

Mike,

Never easy and getting less so or so I believe. We'll have to see how this one plays out. She's not a happy camper right now and I don't like what I think I see coming down the road.

ndebord
February 13th, 2006, 11:43 PM
I am so sorry. We have been there (although no oneís story is quite like another).

Be well.

Kathleen,

You are so right, we've all been here before. In my immediate family tree, I'm the last one left standing, except for one Aunt. But this one makes me want to kill off the medical profession or at least this generation's iteration of it. I had great uncles who were country doctors, so know the difference between how it was practiced then and now. "Do No Harm" is not exactly the practice of the day.

ndebord
February 13th, 2006, 11:47 PM
Oh Nick... I am so sorry... my heart goes out to all of you...

Judy,

My mother-in-law is a complicated person. This is not easy on us or her because she is so strong-willed. I know what she wants and it isn't what she's getting right now.

Judy G. Russell
February 14th, 2006, 11:40 AM
I hear you. And I wish you -- and her -- the best.

ktinkel
February 14th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Hard to argue with your impulse. I hope for the best possible outcome for your mother-in-law (and you and your wife).

ndebord
February 14th, 2006, 09:04 PM
I hear you. And I wish you -- and her -- the best.

Judy,

Thanks. All the family is taking this one day at a time now.

ndebord
February 14th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Hard to argue with your impulse. I hope for the best possible outcome for your mother-in-law (and you and your wife).


Kathleen,

Thanks. We do appreciate yours and everyone's support. As I said to Judy, it's one day at a time now.

Judy G. Russell
February 14th, 2006, 11:08 PM
That's all you CAN do, Nick. Just try to be as good to yourself as you can through this. The emotional toll is appalling.

chm
February 15th, 2006, 03:59 PM
You've got my support, too. And I echo ktinkel's hope for a "best possible outcome."

Carolyn

ndebord
February 15th, 2006, 08:02 PM
That's all you CAN do, Nick. Just try to be as good to yourself as you can through this. The emotional toll is appalling.

Judy,

Yup. I know. I've been there before more than I care to remember. The roller coaster is what I continually refuse to remember until it happens again. <sigh>

With a lot of luck, maybe her lungs will recover. That is my hope, even though I know what her wishes were on all this.

ndebord
February 15th, 2006, 08:03 PM
You've got my support, too. And I echo ktinkel's hope for a "best possible outcome."

Carolyn

Carolyn,

Thanks. We're hoping for the best and are just waiting to see what happens. It is out of our hands and up to the doctors now.

Judy G. Russell
February 15th, 2006, 10:35 PM
<virtual hugs>

ndebord
February 23rd, 2006, 05:18 PM
<virtual hugs>

Judy,

Aach. Today was the worst yet. They want her out of there (upright or at least ambulatory) because the insurance is running out. So in this hodgepodge we call a health care system, they wanted tol "temporarily" transfer her to a nursing home for rehab until Medicaid kicks in and then she can get homecare. That is their plan. I said she didn't look strong enough to be moved, but, hey, who am I?

Anyhow we told her yesterday what they had planned, right after the nebulizer, which is the only thing that perks her up. Today they didn't want us around when they moved her, so we went over to the Village Nursing Home and waited. Around 1pm they called, when the EMS team showed up with the stretcher, she went into shock and her oxygen level dropped "dramatically" so of course the EMS guys told them to take a hike and refused to sign off on the move. So she stays. I lost my temper and said I wanted to see a patient's advocate. Got one and finally, even though a DNR was signed, they coughed up new facts. They won't give her pallitive care (read close to death and we'll stop doing everything except water) without a health care proxy signed by her, her son and daughter and the attending physician and the pallitive care person. So tomorrow sometime, they'll pump her up artificially to see if she is aware enough to sign this form so they can do what she has been asking for ever since they got their hands on her....let her be and let nature take its course.

I had to put a bed pan on her, as the nurses were AWOL and her pee is dark brown, so I hope it is all over this weekend.

The emotional toil on my wife and her brother has been extreme. I dealt with the bureaucrats today even though I am not the legal voice here because both of them were done in.

Sigh.

Mike Landi
February 23rd, 2006, 06:04 PM
Never easy and getting less so or so I believe. We'll have to see how this one plays out. She's not a happy camper right now and I don't like what I think I see coming down the road.

Nick, I'm sorry I took so long to get back to you. I have a real problem with this forum and seeing replies to me. I seem to only notice the first reply in a thread, not other replies down the tree.

I just read your note to Judy. You are going through a personal hell that I would not wish on anyone. Know that we are with you and we know you are doing your best.

The health care industry does not seem to care about people after they reach a certain point. It seems to me that once they determine that a patient is in the "end stage", they really don't care.

Fight like hell and take names. You get their attention when you know the names of the caregivers, especially the aides who are the "minor players".

I raise a glass of very good scotch to you and hope for the best. Take care.

Judy G. Russell
February 23rd, 2006, 10:45 PM
Nick, I am so sorry. I wish there was something I could do... other that wish we all lived in Oregon.

ndebord
February 23rd, 2006, 11:42 PM
Nick, I am so sorry. I wish there was something I could do... other that wish we all lived in Oregon.

Judy,

Nothing you can do. When the system is broke, it ain't broke just a little. This is scary in another respect. When GWB talked about helping first responders after 9/11, one of the topics of note was an effort to improve Beekman (Downtown) Hospital as it was and is the only hospital in the financial district. They've not done a good job of it and I hear the funds needed to renovate an old joint only partially got there. Add in very poor managment (IMO) and you have a dysfunctional health care facility.

As for lawyers, we have discussed getting a Cantonese lawyer we know involved and have not done it for a variety of reasons. But my actions today put the hospital on notice, I hope.

ndebord
February 23rd, 2006, 11:47 PM
Nick, I'm sorry I took so long to get back to you. I have a real problem with this forum and seeing replies to me. I seem to only notice the first reply in a thread, not other replies down the tree.

I just read your note to Judy. You are going through a personal hell that I would not wish on anyone. Know that we are with you and we know you are doing your best.

The health care industry does not seem to care about people after they reach a certain point. It seems to me that once they determine that a patient is in the "end stage", they really don't care.

Fight like hell and take names. You get their attention when you know the names of the caregivers, especially the aides who are the "minor players".

I raise a glass of very good scotch to you and hope for the best. Take care.


Mike,

Unfortunately, you are only partially correct. They care in so far as their liability is concerned, so they actively prolong life even when everyone knows it is hopeless. My mother-in-law could have passed at least a week ago now as the tests and in particular the X-Rays showed just how much damage there was. Blood work and other tests, not to mention real life episodes only reinforce what they knew in ER, ICU and now in her room on a regular floor.

Mike Landi
February 24th, 2006, 06:24 AM
What a sad & painful situation. Sometimes I wonder if medial technology used to prolong life is the right answer. Then, I think would I want to say "Just stop" when it is my loved one?

Lousy choices.

ndebord
February 24th, 2006, 09:37 AM
What a sad & painful situation. Sometimes I wonder if medial technology used to prolong life is the right answer. Then, I think would I want to say "Just stop" when it is my loved one?

Lousy choices.

Mike,

Everybody makes choices based upon their personal philosophies. As for my wife and I, we're redoing our wills next week and putting together living wills, health care proxies (if necessary) and anything else we can do to not go through this kind of insanity.

I figure I've used up more lives than most cats, so I hope my will stays strong when it is my time, because I want to be able to dictate the time and circumstances of my passing if it is at all possible.

Mike Landi
February 24th, 2006, 10:11 AM
I figure I've used up more lives than most cats, so I hope my will stays strong when it is my time, because I want to be able to dictate the time and circumstances of my passing if it is at all possible.

No talk like that! I want to discuss a new scotch I discovered, plus there is a baseball season ahead.

Judy G. Russell
February 24th, 2006, 01:58 PM
It's so hard, at a time like this, to have to deal with everyone else who thinks they know better than you do -- and better than your mother-in-law does -- what's right for her.

ndebord
February 24th, 2006, 05:57 PM
No talk like that! I want to discuss a new scotch I discovered, plus there is a baseball season ahead.

Mike,

Well, it's not that. Not that at all. I've survived cars, boats, canoes, knives, guns, mortars (the rockets and artillery didn't hit close enough, so I give them a pass here) and 3 pneumonias. It is the pneumonia that scares me. So I take particular care there and that is my own worst fear.

ndebord
February 24th, 2006, 06:13 PM
It's so hard, at a time like this, to have to deal with everyone else who thinks they know better than you do -- and better than your mother-in-law does -- what's right for her.

Judy,

Well, today was a better day. My little talk with the patient's advocate yesterday bore fruit today. The attending physician, who really was busy with 3 other cases, has gotten to know me a bit and today we managed to squeeze him in the room, along with a pallative care legalist of some kind, the patient care advocate and my wife and my mother-in-law signed a health care proxy. (The intern was useless and the resident not much better.)

Second, my little talks with the attending also bore fruit as he decided I wasn't going to sue the hospital (I gather paranoia about lawyers is at an all time high) and he signed off on letting her go to hospice, not rehab which she clearly will never be able to do. Insurance won't pay for it at home, but we're hoping for a bed to open up at Cabrini (19th and 3rd Ave). No more invasive techniques of any kind and I hope she'll pass without pain soon. It was hard to watch her try and answer technical questions. The pallitive care person was clueless. Tried to get her to say specifically that she didn't want machines, tubes, blood work, ABGs, etc., etc. through a translator (who gave up and let my wife ask the questions as his Cantonese was rudimentary). Highly technical and eventually everyone else in that little space had enough and told her that YES the woman understood it all and really, really wanted to be left alone to live out her life and YES understood that her daughter was to make those decisions if she no longer could. SIGH.

No more attempts at rehab. She can't really get up at all. Any effort uses up her reserves and as I said before, her pee is brown. Now if a bed will open up, she can go somewhere where the care is better and nature can take its course.

The moral of all this is. Do a Living Will before you are in the hospital. Don't wait, because the health care proxy thing is harder to do. Second, don't rely on hospital services to tell you anything relevant. They don't get around to you unless you are the squeaky wheel. I did all my research on the web and then pushed for specifics from the hospital people who never came around or said what my choices were. As it was, I was pretty clueless in the beginning as the first social worker who came around was really just an "ensign."

As the attending said: It can be 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months. (Earlier on he was saying 3 years, but he's come around a bit.) It helps when you have some time to follow the course of an injury or an illness to come to a proper understanding. And at last, we found ONE doctor with the brains and skill to do the job correctly.

Mike Landi
February 24th, 2006, 06:14 PM
I've survived cars, boats, canoes, knives, guns, mortars (the rockets and artillery didn't hit close enough, so I give them a pass here) and 3 pneumonias. It is the pneumonia that scares me. So I take particular care there and that is my own worst fear.

First, I'd never consider a rocket or artillery aimed near me to 'get a pass'!

As to the pneumonias, those are scary. Be careful right now, I don't want to hear about you in the hospital (again), okay?

ndebord
February 24th, 2006, 06:21 PM
First, I'd never consider a rocket or artillery aimed near me to 'get a pass'!

As to the pneumonias, those are scary. Be careful right now, I don't want to hear about you in the hospital (again), okay?

Mike,

You'd be amazed at how cavalier you get about rounds that don't hit close enough to ruffle your hair! Besides if it had not been for foxholes, I'd never have learned how to properly catnap! I can lay down and say I'll sleep for 20 minutes and nod off and wake up right on time. (O.K. maybe a bit of an exaggeration there, but definitely within 5 or 10 minutes of my goal.) And the good news is I don't need to be horizontal. Any decent chair will do the trick.


<g>

Judy G. Russell
February 24th, 2006, 06:42 PM
The moral of all this is. Do a Living Will before you are in the hospital. Don't wait, because the health care proxy thing is harder to do.Amen, brother. Amen. Except that I'd advise doing BOTH, as early as possible.

And at last, we found ONE doctor with the brains and skill to do the job correctly.I'm glad to hear that. Best of luck to you...

ktinkel
February 24th, 2006, 07:59 PM
Today was the worst yet. Nick ó I am so sorry for what your mother-in-law and the rest of you are going through. I canít offer any help, but I am thinking, hoping for the best possible outcome.

Lindsey
February 24th, 2006, 08:58 PM
Nick, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I don't know why this thread didn't show up for me before now, but it didn't. (Unless maybe it was peeled off from one that I wasn't reading.)

It's good, at least, that you have managed to get through to the doctors who are treating her. That can be difficult; I know my mother had the same problem with the physician who was treating her mother. But he finally did agree to take her off of dialysis when it was clear that it was doing her no good, and she wasn't likely to come out of the state of semi-consciousness she was in.

I hope your mother-in-law will be comfortable for whatever time she has remaining. And my best wishes for you all. I know it can't be easy for any of you.

--Lindsey

Mike
February 26th, 2006, 10:57 PM
Nick, I just encountered this thread, and I apologize I haven't sent my good wishes your way. I hope her situation is improving!

ndebord
February 27th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Nick, I just encountered this thread, and I apologize I haven't sent my good wishes your way. I hope her situation is improving!

Mike,

Thanks for the good wishes, as for her situation, we've managed to get a bed in hospice in a good hospital, if she is up to the move tomorrow.

Judy G. Russell
February 27th, 2006, 03:53 PM
we've managed to get a bed in hospice in a good hospital, if she is up to the move tomorrow.Here's fingers, toes, even eyes crossed that she's up to the move. Hospice is simply the best thing to come along since sliced bread -- caring people, caring environment, generally aggressive pain relief (something other medical people shy away from) and real consideration for the patient's wishes.

ndebord
February 27th, 2006, 09:06 PM
Here's fingers, toes, even eyes crossed that she's up to the move. Hospice is simply the best thing to come along since sliced bread -- caring people, caring environment, generally aggressive pain relief (something other medical people shy away from) and real consideration for the patient's wishes.

Judy,

Thanks. I'm already getting heat from those (not immediately in the family tree) who are saying "Hospice? Are you out of your mind? The woman is fine. Just take her home!"

<sigh>

And who knows? The doctors sure don't. Last week they said 3 days/weeks/months/years. Now they say 3 days/weeks/ months and took away the years thing. But they don't know, outside of what the X-Rays and blood work say about how damaged her lungs are and how much Carbon Dioxide she is retaining.

I've been in every day for over 3 weeks now and imo she is steadily worsening. She can't sit up by herself anymore and is very skinny. Her energy reserve is quickly depleted. And one day she is up (mentally) and the next down. SIGH.

Judy G. Russell
February 27th, 2006, 11:53 PM
The only advice I can give you, from my own experience with my mother, is this: trust your instincts. When it seems to you that time is running out then, most likely, it is running out. And hospice doesn't deny care -- quite to the contrary, the care is often exquisitely good. What it doesn't do is push treatments for the sake of treatments.

As for the heat from others, well, tell 'em all to stuff it. I had to do that several times -- to get more distant relatives off the back of my brother, who was on the scene and coordinating my mother's care. Even then, some of 'em were totally loony. One of my cousins was absolutely beside herself because we refused to have my mother put on a feeding tube -- a feeding tube! of all things! she was within hours of dying and this loon wanted us to put her through that!

ndebord
February 28th, 2006, 07:03 AM
The only advice I can give you, from my own experience with my mother, is this: trust your instincts. When it seems to you that time is running out then, most likely, it is running out. And hospice doesn't deny care -- quite to the contrary, the care is often exquisitely good. What it doesn't do is push treatments for the sake of treatments.

As for the heat from others, well, tell 'em all to stuff it. I had to do that several times -- to get more distant relatives off the back of my brother, who was on the scene and coordinating my mother's care. Even then, some of 'em were totally loony. One of my cousins was absolutely beside herself because we refused to have my mother put on a feeding tube -- a feeding tube! of all things! she was within hours of dying and this loon wanted us to put her through that!


Judy,

What? We have the same relatives? The Dragon Lady (sister-in-law) wants all the tubes back in and thinks we're trying to kill her off. Last night her brother, (brother-in-law to my mother-in-law) drove in from Toronto at age 80 unexpectedly and went straight into conference with her. He is going to show up at the hospital with us when the ambulance people show up. Right. He only shows up normally when someone is going to pass. SIGH.

Judy G. Russell
February 28th, 2006, 05:06 PM
What? We have the same relatives? The Dragon Lady (sister-in-law) wants all the tubes back in and thinks we're trying to kill her off.People can be so $%#^% stupid when it comes to this sort of thing...

Last night her brother, (brother-in-law to my mother-in-law) drove in from Toronto at age 80 unexpectedly and went straight into conference with her. He is going to show up at the hospital with us when the ambulance people show up. Right. He only shows up normally when someone is going to pass. SIGH.Sigh is right... Virtual hugs, Nick. I know this is so hard.

Wayne Scott
March 2nd, 2006, 05:38 PM
A good example of why everyone should have a living will with instructions about drastic measures to keep a hopeless patient alive on machine support. In ICU one can run up several 1000 dollars an hour leaving an estate hopelessly in debt.

Wayne

Jeff
March 3rd, 2006, 02:05 PM
A good example of why everyone should have a living will with instructions about drastic measures to keep a hopeless patient alive on machine support. In ICU one can run up several 1000 dollars an hour leaving an estate hopelessly in debt.

Wayne

Gotta be careful about living wills, as sometimes they don't apply right away. In Colorado, depending on the circumstances, it can take up to a week for the provisions of a living will to kick in. An honest-to-god DNR is immediate, or at least as immediate as it's known about. They require a Dr's signature too. I had a living will but also did a DNR a couple of months ago.

- Jeff

ndebord
March 3rd, 2006, 11:52 PM
Gotta be careful about living wills, as sometimes they don't apply right away. In Colorado, depending on the circumstances, it can take up to a week for the provisions of a living will to kick in. An honest-to-god DNR is immediate, or at least as immediate as it's known about. They require a Dr's signature too. I had a living will but also did a DNR a couple of months ago.

- Jeff

Jeff,

That's good to know. I would add that you also need a health care proxy in NY at least. The DNR did not stop them from doing more than my mother-in-law wanted. After all, they are in the business of saving lives, even when it is hopeless. If ever I met institutionalized schizophrenia, it was at this moment in time. On the one hand they told me "no hope" and on the other, they did their darnest to save her life, if only for another day. Only after we exhausted their choices, did they go for hospice. They wanted to put her into rehab (and probably nursing home after rehab), but when they tried to do elementary rehab at the hospital, she had not the strength to do anything at all. And when they tried to move her to a rehab bed, they told us (in their infiite wisdom), to not be their for the move. Dumb. She crashed when the EMS people showed up in her room sans us. The last move. The one to the hospice, we were there an hour before EMS showed up and I held her hand all the way from Beekman to Cabrini in the back of the ambulance. She made the move O.K. and had a marvelous room with a great view and a truly beautiful setting until the next morning when she made her move and just walked away from a life not worth living by her standards. After all, this was a woman who played Mah Jong 7 days a week, in good weather and foul. Neighbors said they never saw her miss a day. Up at 6, out the door at a quarter to 8 and sitting at a table by 8 sharp. I'd invite you to sit in on a game with her, but you and I are not good enough to sit at her table and if you were so lucky as to get a seat, you'd leave lighter than when you sat down. (Your wallet would be flat as a pancake!)