Friday, November 08, 2013
Hi Spark friends !! Yes, finally my computer, my desktop, (old but I love it,) and I (not old but maybe a little) seem to be back in better health. Missed you all at Spark and many thanks to you who didn’t give up on me!
In the intervening months I’ve been learning a bunch of new stuff, for example use of a walker, how to cook and appreciate low/no salt cooking and thanks to Mrs. Dash, not as hard as I feared. Have to admit though, I really long sometimes for a loaded pepperoni pizza! I have learned to monitor weight to control fluids and to keep the blood pressure at a reasonable level, to keep the INR reading (for the warfarin) constant, to keep the pill box filled and then to take the things. I have avoided the pill-thing for years and it is a chore to remember them and take them at a scheduled time. Scheduled? When I retired I got rid of time tables and put my watch away. It was sure nice while it lasted!
But I discovered it was much like getting off one train and getting on another. After I cancelled my pity-party, I began to see that the past was the past and this was the beginning of a new kind of life. It started as I began to meet new people – the great medics on the ambulance run, the insightful doctor in the first visit to the ER, the nurses in Telepathy – one who remembered me from my last visit – another, the charge nurse who took special time away from her lunch to get my discharge papers in order so I could get home before dark.
I was required to have the visiting nurses to keep a close watch on my rehab and I was sorry when their visits stopped. They were a source of security I needed when first diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I was visited by a kind social worker who made sure I had the help I needed and the physical therapist had me out walking around block with only a hint of breathlessness today.
But best of all was the aide who came to take care of just about everything. Things all seemed to fit – we liked the same foods, entertainments, thoughts on religion, spirituality, family. Even her daughters were a delight. Gracie at college drove me when she was home - she was a camera fiend and did photos of her younger sister and her horse when they were in a show. How fortunate could I be! It was almost like having another family. Deb and her husband Chris are wonderful parents and their children reflect that care and love.
I have had the excuse to play on my computer, watch and learn a lot from the food channel and from the Animal Channel and read. Lately it has been reading more cookbooks than novels but definitely enjoying myself. I think I must have stock in Kindel by now and love reading on my old iPod Touch! It travels with me whenever I go out and I don’t even notice the time spent in waiting rooms!
Just wanted you to know what has been happening in the last six months –that with the help of my patient and loving therapist I have been making a good early adjustment to this new life. I must admit to one loss that is still in the adjustment stage. I don’t drive anymore. After too many close calls and a spell of confusion on the road I hung up my own keys and my pretty Scion sits in the parking lot until the lease runs out.
Know that I am doing well and apologize for my long silence. Hope all is well with you and yours and that winter will be kind to all of us
Friday, February 15, 2013
Did you ever read a book that had chapters you skipped? (I often skip chapters in the mysteries of Patricia Cromwell – too graphic!) It occurred to me that our lives are like a book we are writing. We can actually break the book we are writing, our lives, into chapters. When I lost my horse I was so miserable, I avoided doing the horse photography that I loved so much. I didn’t visit friends’ stables, didn’t want to smell the fragrance of new hay. I cut myself off from not just the unhappy chapter of my life, but also of the happy ones. Finally got to missing horses in general so much I figured out that all I had to do was reread the happy chapters in my life’s book, the chapters about all the joys of those years with my own horses.
I’m back to living with the camera and making myself and my animal-loving friends happy. I’m still never happier than when I am behind the lens with a wonderful four-footed critter in front of it. Isn’t it good that those happy chapters are there to “reread” and thus move us on to creating new chapters of our lives? That wonderful book of our lives is there for us to bring us joy in the memories and delight in creating new ones. I think if I keep that in mind, I can forget about the chapters that didn’t make me happy and concentrate on those that did and the new ones I am writing every day. Today’s chapter won’t be the same as yesterday’s, but I can live the one I am writing now as well as I can, filling it with loving thoughts and gratitude for today and choosing to read in my book of life only the chapters that bring me joy.
Monday, October 08, 2012
I was in a classroom, sitting in a front desk. Except for the desk behind me (a boy I didn’t know) and the one beside me – where the teacher had been sitting, the room was pretty empty. Most students were at an assembly – we were getting our new assignments. The boy ahead of me read his work aloud and it was not nice about President Obama. After a paragraph or two, the teacher stopped him with a brief thank you and handed me my assignment – to read a poem I liked. It wasn’t in my book nor in hers so I decided to recite it. Forgot it’s title (Sea Fever) so announced it as a poem by John Masefield (?)
“I must down to the seas again – to the lonely sea and the sky – and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. And the wheels’ kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking with a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking. I must down to the sea again for the call of the running tide, is a wild call, a clear call that cannot be denied. (forgot the middle of the poem so ended it with “and all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover and quiet sleep and ???? when the long trip is over. “
I stopped and really expected someone to say something, but dead silence, no applause, no corrections, nothing. Then I heard it – a very loud purring by my right ear and then a warm weight on my shoulder. I had waked both my cat and myself – talking in my sleep. No applause, just that lovely purr. It was enough and then, my determination to review and learn the darned poem – from beginning to end!
Monday, September 17, 2012
WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
It all seemed to happen overnight. Those top shelves in the kitchen got higher – didn’t they? Now I have trouble changing my bed and reading paperbacks whose print gets smaller and smaller every year. They have made bottle and jar caps smaller and tighter I’m sure as well as making the contents just a tad less than they used to – but, hey, the price, for a smaller amount has gone UP!
Then there are the more important – I consider them losses: my favorite foods, the spicier the better don’t agree with me anymore; I was quietly going blind until my good doctor removed those things called cataracts (after they got “ripe” enough). Now I can see that my housekeeping skills went the way of my digestion, that is until the cataract removal I thought my house was, as usual, meticulously maintained. Has that skill gone the way of so many skills? I found out that I could know the name of my favorite breads one day and draw a blank the next. Until 3 in the morning, that is.
Visiting in the South, I discovered that I was easily recognized as a Yankee. I walked too fast. And here I thought the local inhabitants were “lollygagging”! They moved so slowly that I had to dodge around them to get anywhere. That wonderful fun of quick motion, of running up and down stairs or taking them two at a time, I see now on TV characters. The transition to a cane and then a walker with a basket/seat really did sneak up on me.
Other little things I’m losing, my teeth for one. I refused “false” ones. I just don’t eat nuts anymore. I got a food processor to grind my favorite cold cereal down to softer bits that I can sprinkle on the top of the yogurt or oatmeal. Oatmeal? My father used to have it every morning when he got old. It’s not so bad. SteaK? I’ve learned how to make a “scraped beef” sandwich using soft oatmeal bread. I quite like the “oatmeal” part in that. And I’d rather not talk about hair loss, I who used to have thick, abundant tresses.
I have graced the Salvation Army with closets of clothes. Saving them after a few years, the thought of ever fitting into them ever again was a joke. Gave up my gym membership. Not only was it too difficult using the equipment with my cane, but there was an incontinence problem too – I simply could not use the pool under those circumstances.
Those are among the losses of old age I’m told. In my arrogance I thought most of the other residents were a breed apart from me. They walked slowly and forgot a lot – especially when they were talking, needed their grown children to drive them here and there, needed a woman to come and clean for them at least once a week, spent their time either going to the doctor, to movies, eating out, playing cards and bingo (for heaven’s sake), making jigsaw puzzles, reading novels and “chatting” (aka gossiping) with each other and taking walks with their walkers up and down the halls. Well, guess what? Little by little, I found some of those funny traits in myself. Must be the proximity of my neighbors.
It was a loss when after my hip replacement I could no longer ride my horse, but I could stand long enough to groom her or take her for a really short walk. And I could still do two stairs at a time – for a while anyway. Unhappily I started going to the funerals of close friends and relatives. But the loss that was dreaded the most – and this is not funny – is the loss of my car, or my keys, of my independence, and ability to come and go when I feel like it. Unlike the great humiliation of many of the folks I know, my keys weren’t TAKEN from me. I decided to give driving up because I was having too many close calls on the road. Strangely I wasn’t worried about personal injury or damage to my vehicle. I had insurance after all. My terror was that a child or a pet could run into the road and my reactions be too slow to avoid them.
Now, to your great relief I’m sure, I have arrived at the whole point of my discussion. You, who have a beloved senior citizen who needs to stop driving be, gentle and remember the losses already suffered. If possible, bring them to their own conclusions about their safety, and that they are dearly loved and need to keep safe if only for you. Please be thoughtful of what giving up this very personal and important ability means to seniors. This is no time for impatience, or humiliating your elders. It is a time to recognize that they know that they are getting older, that deep down they know the dangers of driving when responses get slower, and that this is a major loss, one that is perhaps the most personal, most difficult one to accept. Be understanding, be gentle and, if you can, bring the Senior in your life to make this sacrifice, this very difficult decision, voluntarily.
As I finish sharing my thoughts, my experiences with you, I can still hear the tearful exclamations of one sweet old soul roaming the halls and looking for comfort from everyone she met “She gave my car away, she took my keys. Now I have nothing left.” Don’t let this be your dear loved one.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
I'm sure we all have had this experience - going on a diet, seeing the weight come down - and then not following through and seeing the weight come back - a lot more quickly than it was lost! If only the $$$ in my wallet worked that way!)
I wonder why I drop something that has made me happy - don't have time to plan the meals I tell myself. . .excuses, excuses, excuses or to sit down and visit with good people. More excuses !
It's not the diet thing that is bothering me the most. It is losing touch with Spark and my Spark friends and all the encouragement and support - and I wonder why I begin to feel like a little row boat bouncing around on the sea without a guide post or friend to help.
All this just to say I've missed you all and now that I'm getting my life back in order, here I am again. Will attempt to do better this time around.
May all the joys of the season be yours
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