Thursday, June 10, 2010
I had written about my mother-in-law, Glenna, when she was so ill from inhaling a calcium tablet. We almost lost her then, but she struggled back to health. During her hospital stay, it was discovered that she needed a valve replacement, which was successfully done two weeks ago. After that, her heart was not regulating itself, so last week she had a pacemaker implanted. She was making a fine recovery, but in a convalescent home, where she could be monitored.
Glenna was very unhappy in the home and wanted to return home. Last night she called her grandson and asked him to pick her up and take her home. Instead, he went and spent the night in a chair in her room to keep her company. She was angry about not being able to leave, and refused to eat or do anything they asked her to. Eating, she said, was one thing she still had control over. This morning, while Ryan was sleeping, she decided to go to the bathroom by herself. She was unable to keep her balance and fell over backwards, hitting her head with full force. She lost consciousness almost immediately after Ryan called for help. She was taken by ambulance to the local hospital, the care-flighted to a hospital that is better prepared to handle extreme head injuries.
At the second hospital, the neurologist determined that her head injuries were inoperable, had her hooked up to life support, and left without even checking in with us. The nurse had to fill us in with what she could, but was a poor excuse of a nurse. We asked to see a different neurologist for a second opinion, but he was unavailable until after 5:00PM. While she was comatose before she arrived at the hospital, we watched her condition deteriorate over the course of the day. We could see that it was only the life support machines that were keeping her alive, and wanted to honor her living will by releasing her from the machines. This we could not do until after we saw the doctor.
In the end, we were able to see the CT scans. Essentially, she was brain dead when she arrived. With great sorrow in our hearts, we had her released from life support system.
A kinder and more loving person you could not imagine. The loss of Glenna is a loss to the whole world.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my dear friend Jeanie's breast cancer has metastasized and gone into her lungs. She is undergoing heavy chemo therapy and some other therapy which I am as yet unfamiliar with, but it sounds very positive. I feel fortunate not to have had to go through chemo, but this is not my first time around on the sidelines. From observation, I know how much the treatments take out of a person.
My gift to Jeanie, as well as being on the Meal Preparation Gang, is to clean her house while she is having her chemo treatments so she can come home to sparkling clean. Yesterday, I spent three hours vacuuming, organizing, dusting, and scrubbing until the house shined. I brought an elegant flower arrangement from my garden to place on the bureau in her bedroom, homemade frozen fruit smoothies to put in her freezer, and a menu with dinner selections for her to choose from for when it is my cooking night. I will do this each chemo day, which will be once a week for three weeks, one week off, for a series of 5 rounds.
My sweet friend has just completed her first round. This round has actually made her feel better and stronger than she felt before her treatments began, and she is feeling very encouraged. My experience as a support person has been that the first round is the easiest, and she is in for a long and difficult haul, but I am staying quiet on this. She knows this, too. Neither of us are strangers to cancer and its treatments.
Do you have a friend or family member with cancer? Give them the gift of time and of humor. Your time is so well spent, and a having a calm, supportive attitude, infused with humor, helps the healing process. So many times, when a person is gravely ill, people avoid being around them because it feels awkward and they don't know what the right words are to offer as support. The answer to that is give your time and be a good iistener. Let your friend or family member be the guide in terms of where conversation needs to go.
Share your strength.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
I am enjoying summer, but also having some difficulties with transition. During the school year, my schedule and routine are tightly set, and over-scheduled. One day I am working too hard and have been for nine months, the next day I have totally unstructured time - BOOM! It isn't a bad thing, but it is a thing to be reckoned with. I make lists; lists of things I need to do, calls I need to make, things I need to purchase. I map out plans for my days; X hours to work in the yard, X hours to work in the house, schedule in time with friends, and time with music. It is the glue that holds me together so I don't lose track of my daily goals.
This summer I am having trouble with thinking I forgot things I didn't actually forget. It probably shouldn't, but it scares me. Usually it is pretty manageable, for example, thinking I left the hose on. I go out and check it. Hose wasn't on. Thinking I forgot to turn the lights off on my car. They were off.
But the other day, it was a full out anxiety attack. I was at the garden center with my friend - browsing the plant selection, taking photos of things I thought might look good in my garden but wasn't ready to purchase yet, and enjoying time with my friend. Afterwards, we went for lunch at a little restaurant we both like. I sat down at the table and jumped right back up. I told Judy we had to leave immediately. I thought I left the lentils cooking on my gas stove.... hours ago. I was afraid I had killed all of my animals at least by smoke inhalation, if not by having burned my house down. It felt very real. We were 15 miles from my house and it was torture getting back. As we crested the hill before my home, I was relieved not to see smoke. I rushed into my house to check the stove and the animals. Everything was fine. Stove off. Lentils done. Stella, Emmitt, and Tex - fine, healthy, and happy to see me. I was very relieved that everything was just fine, but it still scares me that I am having these lapses. Would I be as scared if my grandmother hadn't had early onset Alzheimers? I don't think so. I am hoping that this is just a phenomenon of going from having a highly structured life to one that lacks external structure.
Okay, I'm off to take my fish liver oil - stay healthy, brain!
Sunset Over the Field.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Here is a tiny video clip of the chicks. They are so cute, I could watch them all day. In fact, they love to hang out with me, so I do get to watch them all day when I am out working in the yard. They are very entertaining, but then, I AM easily entertained. The big black australorp rooster is Denty, the chick who survived the cracked and glued egg.
I have really been logging in the fitness points recently. Now that I am finally on vacation, I have been catching up on yard work between thunderstorms. It has been such a warm, wet spring that my yard has become a tropical forest. I have been pulling gigantic weeds, cutting back shrubbery, filling the garden cart, hauling the weeds off to the compost, planting new plants, and clearing the yard of branches that have been coming down in the storm.
When it has been storming, I have been doing the deep cleaning the house has so desperately needed. I promised myself to get rid of 'stuff' and I have begun the process of extruding. My parents grew up during the great depression and believed in throwing nothing away. I learned that lesson very well. The thing is, I do still believe in that. We have become such a wasteful nation and it has been very hard on the ecosystem, from wasteful production, to the toxins that result from production, to the issues we now have with waste disposal. So I am not at all critical of myself about not throwing things away; but I do need to share with others... time for a lot of my things to head to Good Will.
I have also been getting to spend time singing with friends and practicing my guitar. I can strum away pretty well now, and arpeggiate, but I am focused on learning new picking styles. I need to break out my flamenco guitar today, it has been sitting on the sidelines during my hectically busy end-of-the-school-year.
I have come to believe that I had set my original weight goal too low. I seem to be 'stuck' at my current weight, but it is a good weight. The love handles (muffin top) are still there, and maybe they will come off now that I have more time to be more strenuously active, maybe they won't. I wonder if a little thickness in the middle is just a condition of being in the thick of middle agedness. Right now, I am thinking that there is a body-wisdom I should be listening to instead of the mind games I can play with myself. So, I have actually reset my goals to be a few pounds heavier than what I originally thought; not as a cop-out, but as an offering to a greater wisdom than my self-referencing brain.
One of my dear friends brought me a bouquet of these roses for my birthday. I love the color!
Saturday, June 05, 2010
I do not for a day take for granted the privilege I have to be able to grow my own fruits and vegetables, and to have chickens in my yard. When Mike and I first got married, we bought a run-down Victorian home in town, that I adored. Several of the people who were looking at it had plans to bulldoze it and build a parking lot for a local business, it was that bad. But I love old homes and Mike and I had a plan. We spent 8 years restoring the house and yard, resurrecting the fish pond, the beautiful tiled fireplace that had a closet built around it, the lovely staircase, etc. It was all done with sweat-equity. I don't like loans and on a school teacher's salary, paying for the work was out of my economic range.
After eight years of restoration, we sold our house to a sweet couple, an artist and a computer analyst, who 15 years later, are still giving it the tender attention it needs. Mike and I used our equity to buy a house with acreage in the country so we could enjoy more expansive gardening and a quieter life style. I do not love my ranch house the way I loved my Victorian, but it is practical and homey. However, I LOVE my yard and gardens, as well as the expansiveness of the sky around us. I love the birds, the herons, hawks, woodpeckers, bluebirds, owls, and songbirds that live here, in fact we have actively made our home a bird sanctuary. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be able to live where we do, and to be able to grow our own food.
We DID grow our own food in town, though, just not on as grand a scale. Even city dwellers can grow veggies in container gardens.
As I was working in the garden this morning between storms, I was thinking about the many advantages of gardening. You can probably add to my list:
Vitamin rich and freshness guaranteed
Connection with our earth, you can't help feeling protective when you get your hands in the dirt.
Physical work keeps you in shape
Spiritual connection with your food and the earth it grows from
You can go out and pick your meal
For those of you who love nothing more than a tomato, fresh and warm from the sun, picked right off of the vine, I have posted this link to Molly Mason and Jay Unger singing 'Homegrown Tomatoes'.
I am working on this song, but am no where as good as Molly - yet.
I love being able to have chickens, too. Just like fresh tomatoes are nothing like the cardboard-like renditions you get in the store in the winter, a fresh egg cannot be compared to a 'store' egg. It is entirely different. I never liked eggs until I had chickens, so in my case, the answer to which came first would have to be - the chicken!
The girls say 'Hi'.
To my gardening friends, have a great weekend of gardening. To my friends who don't have the luxury of a garden, Saturday is usually a Farmers' Market day. There are not only great fruit and veggie offerings at the farmers' market, it is a great place to socialize.
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