Friday, August 20, 2010
Both good and bad since my last blog, but still a lot to be grateful for, some of which are -
- Deciding to buy a push mower to mow my lawns myself, rather than continuing to pay someone to ride round on his mower for 30 minutes and handing over $50 each time. Great fun, great exercise and going to save me money too.
- Sun shining brightly this morning, meaning I will be able to mow my lawns with 'Larry', my new friend, aka push mower.
- The unexpected visit from a chainsaw carrying friend who cut the worst of the broken branches from my gum tree so the fences don't suffer any more damage. The beautiful red eucalyptus flowers are just opening even on the broken branches, so I will cut a few vases full for home and take some to the nursing home this afternoon to brighten their dining rooms and lounges.
- Living in the kind of town where even though last night I left my keys in the front door in plain view of anyone walking up the driveway, nothing was touched and my keys were still there waiting for me this morning. Not going to take the chance again though, I realise I was lucky.
- For being at the nursing home at dinner time yesterday rather than my usual Friday post lunch time visit, which allowed me to feed him some dinner. Very stressful time with Dad yesterday, he couldn't or wouldn't open his eyes, wasn't able to either feed himself or open his teeth as well as his lips for me to feed him dinner (first meal he could be persuaded to at least try eating all day). I did eventually manage to get 10 teaspoons of pureed meat and vegetables into him, but that took 2 1/2 hours. He is also having great difficulty in remembering how to swallow. Hoping for a better day today.
- Lots of stuff I found upsetting, mainly to do with Dad, but also three of the female residents at the home. They reacted to a staff shortage on the afternoon shift by becoming upset, crying because they had no one who loved them or spent time with them. Luckily another resident's daughter and I could spend time with each of them separately and later as a group, and convinced them we cared about them and that we enjoyed coming to see them as well as our own family member. We talked about how they were each others' friends, were warm, well cared for, safe and had each other. It was hard to walk away, but all three were sitting together at a table without tears, after being hugged and kissed goodbye when we eventually left.
- For the wonderfully enthusiastic welcome from all three of my 'babies' when I returned home. I'm sure they knew even before I walked through the door I was in need of a little extra attention.
- For learning a few months back that copious amounts of coffee do NOT lessen the stress, no matter how enjoyable the flavour. Far better instead to stick to chai or peppermint tea, because they are way more soothing.
- For meditation, for prayer, for friends and family, and for knowing I am not going through this journey alone.
- For the knowledge that today is a new day, with limitless possibilities to do some good in the world, to find something to be grateful for in even in the smallest event, and for those wonderful affirmation cards I choose from at random each morning.
Today's card had the following 'It is my birthright to live fully and freely. I give to Life exactly what I want Life to give to me. I am glad to be alive. I love life!' How true that is...
Thursday, August 19, 2010
(From Earth Star Publishing's ''Proven Solutions for the 21st Century' newsletter. I thought it was well worth posting ...)
Dogs may be smarter than we think. Here are some secrets of contented living that most dogs follow - and more humans need to:
- Never pass up the chance to go for a ride.
- Sometimes obedience is the best strategy.
- Eat with gusto!
- Be dependably loyal no matter what.
- Always greet your loved ones enthusiastically, even if they've been gone for only five minutes.
- Carve out your niche - and let others know when they've invaded your space.
- Find time too run, chase things, and play every day.
- Take frequent naps.
- Take time to stretch before getting up from your naps.
- Don't bite when a growl will send the message.
- When someone's having a bad day, stay close, be quiet, and nuzzle them now and then.
- When its hot, drink a lot of water and sleep in the shade.
- Enjoy long, rambling walks.
- Don't take scoldings personally - you'll forget them soon enough.
- When you're happy, show it.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Been a very upsy-downsy two days but life has a habit of working itself out - it may not be as we'd planned but as they say, plans are only made to be changed...
I was midway through my day at college yesterday, just about to leave my math class, when my phone rang. It was the nursing home calling to tell me they were concerned about Dad's rapidly deteriorating condition. He was unable to speak clearly, was very confused (more so than normal), and was unable to walk or even stand without a nurse holding him on either side. The thinking was that maybe he'd had another stroke. I left straight away to sit with him till the hospital bus arrived to take us over to the hospital, about 2 minutes away. The bus was necessary because Dad needed to be in his wheelchair to be mobile. There is no resident doctor at our small town hospital, but we aren't as disadvantaged as may appear. Soon a doctor was with us, ordering all kinds of tests...
The results, when we finally got them a few hours lately, were that despite the dementia taking more of a hold, the other problems were being caused by extremely high blood glucose levels and very low blood pressure. Ahhhh, the relief! I spent several hours with Dad back at the nursing home and left feeling really relieved at the diagnosis. A few additional pills each day, a severely restricted diet (not that Dad will even realise), and things will hopefully settle down a little.
I've seen Dad for several hours this afternoon and he was able to put short sentences together, just 4 or 5 words, but he couldn't get two words out in a row yesterday. He was able to understand what I was saying to him, thankfully, which left me feeling over the moon with happiness.
I was totally exhausted last night when I finally crawled into bed, wanted nothing more than to sleep undisturbed till the alarm woke me at 6am this morning. Not to be... I fell asleep straight away, then not 15 minutes later Sam started his barking and howling, wanting Keiodie to guide him outside. Nothing doing, Keiodie was fast asleep and even snoring! I ended up putting on my dressing gown and sheepskin boots and taking Sam outside in the dark so he could do what dogs do outside in the middle of the night. Back to bed again, back to sleep... Repeat performance from Sam 30 minutes later, back outside... I lost count at twelve times this happened, mainly because by 1am it was so cold outside there was already a thick frost covering every surface.
Sam decided each time we got to the grass it was too cold, changed his mind and headed back inside, leaving me there to shiver. At 4.30 got down on my hands and knees in front of Sam, our noses almost touching, and said loudly and clearly for the benefit of my near blind, fully deaf friend 'No more! We are NOT going outside until after the alarm!' I know he didn't understand me even if he'd heard what I was saying, but it made me feel better at least. Within two minutes Sam was snoring next to Keiodie and shortly after I fell asleep too. The alarm woke me later, but not Sam, who continued snoring his way through my morning routine. Keiodie woke up with all the enthusiasm a well rested little dog can, and try as I might, I was unable to resist his antics with his beef hide bone.
I always make a peppermint tea first thing in the morning, so turned on the kitchen tap to fill the kettle, Nothing. No water. Frozen pipes again! By this time I was laughing. Don't ask me why, but suddenly my sleepless night, the endless trips outside in the cold, Sam snoring now I was awake, Keiodie almost juggling his bone using nothing but his nose, the frozen water pipe, all of them suddenly seemed so ridiculous that I couldn't help but see the funny side of it all. Being desperately in need of peppermint tea to restore me to my senses, I traipsed outside to the tap under the carport for water, suddenly realising the noise I could hear was the garbage truck coming ever closer to the space by the kerb where my bins should be.
Mad woman laughing crazily, dressing gown ties flying behind, rushing out to the street dragging a bin behind her with each hand... Yep, that was me. I was still smiling about my 'interesting' morning while I cooked dinner a short while ago.
I'd had a great day at college, Dad is feeling a little better, two of my daughters had been in touch to check on his progress, my water pipes had thawed while I was away, I'd prepared the vegetables and tofu for my chili stir fry for dinner before I left home, I made and drank some hot chai in one of my wonderful cuddle mugs... Life is good, and what's even better, I can see it is. All those things that went wrong only gave me cause for laughter, which is definitely not something that would have happened to the 'old' me. Spark People certainly works wonders, and I'm living proof of that!
Thank you Spark People for all you've helped me believe I can achieve in life.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
These past few days have been the kind where the former me would have been focused on all the negatives - something I just realised while I was talking with a friend on the phone. We'd been catching up on each others' last few days and after telling her what had happened in my life she commented on my complete change of attitude.
Seems Spark People has worked its magic, not just on my now healthy eating patterns and my loss of weight, but with my defeatist attitude. Whether its the decision to spend a month writing a gratitude journal in the hope it would give me cause to find some positives in my daily life or what, I don't know. All I know is that thanks to Spark People my life seems to have emerged from under that perpetual dark cloud.
Ok, on to the things I've had cause to feel so grateful over the past few days . . . although, come to think of it, I've started already. My change of mindset has been a huge thing that's happened without my really noticing until it was pointed out to me. Who would ever have thought the person who thought life had left her behind and gone on without her would feel this way? Certainly not me!
Dad still has his bad chest cold, still is having trouble with a very persistent cough that leaves him purple faced with veins protruding from his forehead and neck, but slowly it seems to be loosening its hold on him. His color has gone from a combination of red (very flushed face), grey (any part of his face and neck that isn't flushed) and black (eyes) to almost normal. His heart is a little better too, which is good news, even though the confusion has increased. Nursing staff have said his signs are returning to what they were before the cold hit.
At dog walking time Friday the rain magically disappeared and some very watery sun came out, so off we went! Keiodie was so excited to be out and exploring that I couldn't leave him on the leash, despite my decision of a few days ago to do just that. Sam had a good time in his own way, waddling along the pathways, tail wagging and stopping to sniff at almost every blade of grass. Needless to say we were late arriving at our meeting point with Keiodie, so once again, no sign of him. This time however, I looked across at my driveway and there he was, sitting in the middle, neck craned as he searched left and right for any sign of us . The moment he saw us he headed in our direction, AFTER checking for traffic - first time ever! His excitement at finding us right where we should have been was unbelievable Needless to say I had a constant companion for the rest of the evening and on into the night, lol.
I finally managed to get that final unweeded area cleared away, and now have two gravelled areas looking the way they should have but didn't for far too long. There was an old dog kennel in the end of the side yard, left by a past resident of the units before we bought them. For as long as we've lived here I've been going to demolish it and fill the area it took up with gravel so it will look the same as the surrounding area.
I was sitting on the top step with a coffee this afternoon, Keiodie by my side, Rhani on my lap and Sam snoring loudly from beside the bottom step when I looked at that old kennel. I was telling myself I'd go demolish it as soon as I'd finished my coffee, when all of a sudden something hit me - it would make a great shelter for my chickens! I'd had second thoughts about using the shed Dad had insisted we needed, which was in the wrong place and was too small to be useful, and it would have made a wonderful chicken house. Trouble was, it was still in the wrong location for that too. I'd have to relocate the clothesline if I wanted to put up a fence for a safe retreat for the chickens, so I'd decided to go back to my original idea and house them under the shade of the trees on the other side of the yard. Amazing how these things come to make sense, given time.
The gale force winds of the past days brought down half of my beautiful old red flowering gum tree, which was just coming into bloom. I didn't notice it till the next afternoon, mainly because the rain was obscuring the view across the yard, but suddenly I realised there was far more daylight visible in that area than usual. Sure enough, when I went over to investigate, the tree had split almost completely in two. Nothing for it, but to get it cut down. Sad, but has to be done. Half of the tree had landed on top of my chain wire fence, which luckily had a steel pole reinforcing it both top and bottom, so instead of the dogs being able to escape over a crushed fence, the top pole was only dented by about 8 inches.
I was estimating the cost of having the tree cut down, dollar signs rushing past my eyes as I imagined the work involved, when one of the sons from the house on the same side of the block as the tree fell walked past. I checked no damage had resulted on his side of the fence, and luckily none had, but he asked if I'd like a friend of his, who keeps the family supplied with firewood for their open fire, to bring his chainsaw when the weather improves, and not only cut the tree down, but cut the resulting wood into pieces suitable for an open fireplace. I said a very grateful 'yes please', asked how much he would want to be paid so I could have the money ready for him, and was told at most it would be the cost of a chainsaw tank of fuel. He offered to buy the resulting firewood, but I told him he was more than welcome to it. Both win this way. Its amazing to have such great neighbours!
I brought Dad home from the nursing home for the afternoon yesterday, which he really enjoyed - finally a proper (and HOT) cup of coffee, and some home baked fruit cake. I was just making sure the back door was closed securely before helping him out of the chair to get him back into the car for his return to the home when there was a loud crash, and Dad was sprawled on the floor, after having forgotten he needs his walking frame to stay upright. No damage was done, and because of his dementia Dad was unaware of what the possibilities could have been from such a fall. After a thorough check to make sure he was really ok, I realised I'd need someone else to help me get him back on his feet. I called a friend who I know would have been heading for the shower after only just having walked in through the front door, and within 3 minutes she was at my front door, laughing with Dad about my needing a crane in case it ever happened again. We got him into the car, drove to the home and he was walking in through the front doors as if nothing had happened. He'd completely forgotten his fall! Dementia does have its good points, I guess. (His doctor checked him over this morning just as a precaution, but no damage at all, not even a bruise.)
Just before Dad had fallen I'd had a call from a friend who wanted me to call over on my way home after taking Dad back, but wouldn't tell me why. I really didn't feel like doing anything but coming home, taking a hot shower and crawling into bed but called over to see her. Her son was there and when I'd sat down and been given a coffee he presented me with a box and told me it was a gift from his partner Donna. I opened it up and there, wrapped carefully in tissue paper were three absolutely gorgeous cuddle mugs!
I'd seen cuddle mugs a few months ago on sale on a website I could never find again. They were short, round, handle-less, and shaped so that both hands could wrap around them while drinking their contents, warming the hands on a cold morning. I fell in love instantly with the plain cream (or were they white?) mugs I'd seen, and had mentioned something about them to Donna. She is part way through a long course in pottery design and manufacture and was searching for something different to design, so those cuddle mugs fitted the bill.
Not only did she spend time on coming up with the right size to hold comfortably in both hands, but worked out the capacity that was perfect for one herbal tea bag. She had tried glazing them both inside and outside, found the glazed outside was too hot to hold, so came up with a different method of sealing the outside without glazing it. Don't ask me, I have no idea how, but it works. Not only that, she had etched a turtle design into the side of each mug, with a patch of cream glaze behind it!
This morning I was sitting outside just after the sun had risen, the wind was blowing, the rain was falling, but I was there, hands wrapped round a cuddle mug filled with hot peppermint tea, sipping it slowly as my hands warmed up. Those few minutes were just so incredibly perfect! What else could I follow it up with but a wonderful meditation session. Nothing could ruin my day from that moment onwards...
I haven't made mention of a friend contacting me with not only a request, but with some very undeserved compliments. I asked for time to consider my options, as it would take a little of my time on a regular basis, and I already have a lot on my hands. I wanted to make sure whichever decision I made was going to be the right one, for me and for everyone concerned. Well, I took a look at all the things I've done of late that I never thought I would, and decided that I would give it a try. That's all I can do with anything in this life, give it my best try, that's all any of us can do really. Nothing was ever gained by not taking a chance, so the 'new' me decided to go ahead and agree, and just hope her belief in me was justified.
When I look back at the past 12 months and the changes that have taken place in my life, both good and bad, I have no doubt that each and every event has benefited me in some way, even the so called 'bad' events, such as Dad's strokes, his dementia, and so on... I guess really it all has to do with my new determination to find the positives in all those negatives, because as an old friend told me long ago, there is always a positive somewhere in every event. We just need to continue searching till we can find it. Guess of late I've become a little better in searching, and think a large part of that has been because of my decision to start on a gratitude blog of my own, the idea of which was copied from a really influential Spark Friend of mine.
My wish now is that we can ALL make more of an effort to find the positives in the negatives we often feel our lives are filled with. They say that something new takes five days to become a habit, and I'm hoping this is one habit that can become contagious! Good luck everyone with catching it...
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Its early morning, cold and wet and miserable outside, with more severe weather to come as the day progresses. I've just come in from sitting in a sheltered, and dry, spot outside. Each morning, no matter what the weather, my day starts with my taking a big mug of peppermint tea to drink outside as I wait to see the sun come up. Its a favourite time of my day because I'm privileged to hear the wake up warblings of the many magpies in the trees nearby. During the wettest part of the year there is also the sound of hundreds of frogs who live close to the channel behind my place - this takes excess rainfall to a nearby dam to be used in keeping public places green and growing through the driest times of the year.
Only had a half day at college yesterday because the teacher had an appointment out of town. We were given the assigned work and the choice to either stay at college or to go home and complete it before next week. I chose the latter because it gave me a chance to go see Dad at the nursing home. His heart is slowly weakening and his doctor says the best he can do is to keep Dad free of pain. Dad has developed a really bad cold over the past days and his lungs are not as healthy as they could be, so its worrying to see him coughing till he turns purple in the face before he can gain some control over his breathing. He has never been a good patient, even when he was younger, and really appreciated having me there with him yesterday. That half day couldn't have come at a better time for me.
I'm sitting here with the heating warming the entire unit, I'm warm and comfortable, the early morning news show is on the television in the background, the urgently needed clothing is drying in my tumble dryer (really don't like using it but there are times when its necessary. Today's one of them). My animals are warm and dry and enjoying being curled up together on the mat in front of the heater.
I have good food, I have clean water to drink, I have family and good friends. I have my day at college to look forward to. I'm healthy, I'm happy and for me life is good. How can I not be grateful for all I'm blessed with? If only life could be this way for everyone in the world, specially those in developing nations and those in war zones who wake in the mornings wondering if they will survive the day. Just imagine the possibilities...
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