Sunday, February 13, 2011
As I write this, it is almost 1:00 in the morning. I am rarely up this late/early. I know it's because I am avoiding sleep. Six years ago at this time in the morning, I was in my Dad's hospital room. My brother had just arrived after flying all the way from Japan and driving from Indianapolis to Evansville. My sister could not travel because she was nearly 8 months pregnant.
The nurses at St Mary's were fabulous. They cared for my Dad with compassion and also cared for us, though not in the same way, of course. Dad was in kind of a suite, so there was a couch, microwave and other things that made staying with him for hours on end manageable.
Dad was originally diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had several careers in his life, ending with a return to a career of his youth, a long haul truck driver. He knew for two years that something was not right, but it took him that long to get to the doctor. Part of that is his generation, part of that was his stubbornness. Part of that was his unwillingness to take the time, spend the money to see the doctor (yes, I am that way, too). Anyway, he went through chemo and all the rest of it, beat that cancer into submission. Then, and I learned this was common, he was hit with bone cancer.
I was at work when I got "the call". I got that call the day after my coworker's boyfriend called in for her to say she had found her mom dead the night before. There were only 5 of us in the office when it was full-staffed (same company where I work now, but I was working a different job at a satellite office). At the time, we were not fully staffed. One lady had just retired (she would come back, but that's another story), another lady was on leave taking care of her mom in AZ with brain cancer. Then Cyndi found her mom dead and I got the call the next day.
I was stunned because I did not know he was that sick. I went to talk to my boss and she wisely asked me how I would feel if I were not there when he died. I said, "I have to be there."
My stepsister was the one who called me. I called the hospital and tried to talk to Dad's doctor. Eventually, he called me back. I explained that I was in CA and that I was scheduled to go on vacation in Hawaii a week from then, but needed to know the truth of my Dad's condition. He told me to go ahead and go on vacation and have a good time because he was the doctor and he could keep my Dad alive as long as he wanted to. (!)
I called my Dad's exwife, mother of my brother and sister, to tell her what the doc said in case she could stop my brother from coming from Japan unnecessarily. Several phone calls later, my sister called back and said she talked to the nurses on the floor. They could not give a medical opinion, but they gave their experienced observation that we should come if we wanted to say goodby.
I got delayed in Chicago and arrived in KY hours later than I should have. Dad was alert at the time I should have arrived and was asking for me. He recognized me when I finally arrived. Through my tears, I told him it was ok for him to go because, now that I saw him, I clearly saw the difference between existing and living. Exhausted, I reluctantly fell asleep on the couch. I woke up to hear my brother's voice! I did not know for sure he was coming, so we had a subdued reunion.
It was almost exactly this time of night when Dad pulled off his oxygen mask. His wife asked if he knew that he would die without the oxygen and Dad nodded affirmatively. Unbeknownst to me, my brother went to the nurses' station and asked about that, both for the time and whether they would kick us out of the room since they were no longer caring for someone on the road to recovery. They told him 8 hours and they would leave us there.
Fast forward. With my brother holding one hand and me the other, we spent hours with Dad. They increased his morphine when he got really agitated. Those sounds as he died are burned in my memory. A nurse came in and told us that the hearing is the last sense to go, which, in any other setting would have made me laugh. Dad had been hard of hearing (and in denial about it) for years. But, it did seem as if his hearing was sharp. I told him I loved him and I told him that my sister sent her love. That was the last thing he heard. He died at 7:55 local time Sunday morning. Yes, the exact time of the attack on Pearl Harbor 12-07-1941.
It was a blessing that my brother was there. I was on autopilot the entire week. The family was very concerned about me because I did not eat or sleep for most of the week. My brother is 12 years younger than I am, but he was not my little brother that week. We dealt with the funeral home (another experience I will never forget) and we drove to Indianapolis to fly to Albuquerque and then drive to the small town in the mountains where Dad would be laid to rest. His funeral was Friday morning at almost exactly the time I should have been boarding the plane in San Francisco bound for Honolulu.
My cousins built Dad's casket and we had a moment of consternation when we realized that the handles on the coffin sides would not allow it to go into the ground. Fittingly, it was pouring rain, freezing windy rain. I did not even have a jacket and I did not care. I was crying too hard. My cousins were in their best suits slipping in the mud sawing off the handles. We told stories later about the comments Dad would have said.
I wrote the basis for the eulogy, my sister gave the conclusion over the phone, my brother rewrote the whole thing and made it sound beautiful. Our cousin Karl read it for us during the service in NM (I don't remember much of the service in KY).
Karl and my brother were in the Navy, so they wore their uniforms for Dad's funeral. He would have been so proud!
(Three years ago, we all met in the same mountain town to bury my youngest girl cousin who was killed in a car accident. This time, it was our turn to stand up for Karl and the rest of our cousins as they buried their baby sister.)
From this story, the only tangential relationship to SP would be a caution. Guys, if not for yourself, for your loved ones, get screened for prostate and breast cancer. Ladies, get screened for breast cancer and reproductive cancers. Don't ignore something that you think is not right.
Dad met his first grandson, but missed out on the other three grandchildren. Gone too soon.
I did not meet Dad until I was a teen and, even then, did not live with him except in the summer (boarding school). So, I had far less time with Dad than my brother and sister did (from his second marriage - I am the leftover from the first marriage).
I knew as I watched him die that I was never going to be the same. Little did I know how true that thought was.
I will go to bed now but I know I will relive that tearful night.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
I am getting tired of having nothing wonderful to report insofar as exercise is concerned. I hardly moved at all, not from laziness but from pain.
I am hungry, but it's the wanting-to-eat hunger, so I am ignoring it. Would that have happened a year ago? I don't think so. I could have told you that I knew I was thinking of eating food just because, but I would have either given in and eaten until I was stuffed or gone to bed without, feeling deprived and as if I were punishing me for something.
A year of reading Spark People articles about attitude...things are better. I am not there yet, but awareness and having time to make decisions before acting is progress.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The other day, my CDs arrived. I finally broke the seal and played two of them today. These are CDs of the music I learned from my music teacher decades ago. Of course, back then, they were are LPs! I had not heard these songs (except me singing them) since those days in her music room. I knew it would bring back memories, but I was unprepared for the flood of memories, for the pain, for the tears. The pain will pass, but it was sharp today! At the same time, through the tears, my spirit was uplifted in a profound way.
During the day, I stopped by Yvonne's desk to see if she needed me to take anything to the finance office. In the course of that conversation, she told me to take any more new orders that came in and process them. I will be covering her desk when she goes on vacation next month, so the reminders of how to do so will be useful. A few hours later, I pulled one in and found that it was a really unusual one. I went back to her desk with it hoping she was still in. She was, but I innocently walked into the middle of some rush thing she was doing for the attorney that she'd given the popularity award to last week. I also did not realize that she was rushing to get out the door and when she asked us (the attorney and me) if the matter could wait until tomorrow, he thought she was asking him. I knew it was me. I turned on heel and was a bit rude and left. I feel terribly.
I was within range on most things for food. Low in carbs - how odd! High in sodium, but not much. Something over 8K steps - I took a shorter walk at lunch just in case my leg flared up again. My left arm has been in a great deal of pain all day. I don't know if I slept on it wrong or carried that back of cat food wrong yesterday or what. No ST on that arm today.
I had a dream last night that I was going to be laid off. That was an unsettling way to start the day!
Out of the blue, my VP came to me and said we should do lunch next week because we have not talked in a while. Of course I accepted! I don't know if this will be the setting for my interview for the promotion or something completely different. The lunch will be on Tuesday. I will color my hair this weekend and get it trimmed, try to get lots of rest before then and see what happens.
Today was a day of small victories. Generally within range on food, some walking and it felt good, a more productive work day and music that lifted my mood.
Hope is relit in my heart! (Even though I will pay dearly for my rudeness to Yvonne). That's for another day.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Making Progress – What Does That Mean Today?
I ate within range in all respects save being low in calcium. (I was high in calcium earlier in the week, so, on balance, that’s probably ok.)
Exercise is a mixed bag, but it’s better than yesterday and the weekend. I had some light, very light, strength training. My pedometer says I logged in over 10K steps and 3.3 miles (not all at once). One of the things I did was go shopping on the way home from work. I parked some distance from the store, though I could have parked farther, and walked through the store several times. That was not planned, I was looking for a specific product. Then, I pushed the cart to my car and back to the store after emptying it. That creates a conundrum for me: Me pushing the cart back to the store is akin to using the self-checkout lane or turning down help to my car at the grocery store – as stores move towards automation and people like me move towards more fit choices, this starts to erode entry level jobs. No big deal, you say? Where does a teen or college student get the first job, the summer job if we continue to allow businesses to cut those positions? How does a young person get that experience if they can’t get that first foot in the door? I often shag my cart, but I refuse to use the self-checkout lane. I once said something about it in the store when someone asked me, saying I did not want to take a job away. Several people said they had never thought about it like that. A couple employees came up to me privately and said thank you!
But I digress.
My left leg is still sore, but not as badly as yesterday. I did not step on the elliptical today. My energy level was a little better today, but still a far cry from where it should be. I suppose I should see a doctor, but it’s almost not worth it. It would take weeks to get to see my doctor and I don’t want to take more time off from work nor pay the copay for the visit. I could go see someone on-call, but that does not assuage my other concerns. We’ll see.
I delivered the speech at my home club today. This was the same speech I shared recently in a blog, the one about my music teacher. My speech evaluator used a great turn of phrase: life of a friendship. I have some areas for improvement – I need more vocal variety and more body language. Still, the president of the club called me afterwards to tell me I should keep this speech and use it to enter a contest. That surprised me! One of the guests at today’s meeting is our legal intern, an attorney on loan to us for a year. I was pleased he accepted my invitation!
Speaking of legal staff, I still have heard nothing about my application for the paralegal position. The VP was out of town last week and we still have not filled the two attorney positions. It could be a while. It is hard to be patient and this whole situation probably contributes to my mental fatigue! It is also review season and I don’t have high hopes about what mine will say. I have worked in an invisible world for too long!
In previous blogs, I have shared about my friend and coworker Yvonne. In December, I helped with her extreme workload which included covering her desk completely while she was out sick. She said thanks, but her boss never acknowledged my assistance, though he was quick to ask for it from my boss. This sounds so petty, but it is indicative of my invisibility. The legal department has a monthly award that moves from person to person. The holder one month selects the next month’s holder. A couple of years ago, Yvonne took on another job on top of her own with no increase in pay. The holder of the award did not know who to nominate for the next month, so I sent her an email and gave her a write-up she could use to pass the award to Yvonne. I don’t know if Yvonne knows I did that. In December, a lady who is having real trouble fitting in had the award and passed it to Yvonne for January. Yvonne clearly received it knowing it was a “suck-up” nomination (her words). Despite her scorn, Yvonne did the same thing by nominating one of the attorneys. Yes, I thought she should have chosen me, for all of the support I have given in the past and because, when she goes on vacation in March, I will be doing her desk. I was hurt. It is a silly thing about which to be hurt and my sharing this might diminish your esteem for me. I hope not. But I share it in a “thinking aloud” sort of way. I am striving to find my equilibrium with everything that is going on.
I am not happy to have regained some weight, I don’t like how my clothes feel, there’s not much I like about myself right now, but I am still plugging along.
Thank you for the support, for the comments and Spark Goodies. I seem to say this often, but repeating does not make it less sincere. I am truly touched and grateful!
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