Category Archives: health

Life and Aging

So I’ve become preoccupied with the whole concept of aging.  But mostly how unfair it is.  It occurs to me that in this instance, Life and Aging can be used interchangeably.

I keep thinking of my parents when they were young.  How they fell in love, how their lives unfolded and how innocent they started out.  There was no way they could have known that they would have six children or the allowances and sacrifices they would be required to make.  Both of them came from very poor families and decided that their kids would not do without as they did.  That, in itself is a rather daunting undertaking.

I think when we look at our parents, we forget that they were much like we are at one time. Most likely they had a lot of the same feelings and desires and fears.  When I look at myself and wonder how I got this old, I realize now that they must have done the same thing.  It seems so unfair to me that Life has robbed them, not only of their youth and innocence but their vitality and abilities to take care of themselves, and then, finally, their lives themselves. It seems so senseless.  I try to concentrate on the good memories, the happy times and the fact that the world is a better place for them having been here.  But when I think of how short a time we’re given on this Earth to accomplish something, it seems kind of cruel to me.

I think I’m about to embark on the angry stage of Grief.

A Blog Can Serve a Purpose (and other observations)

I’ve all but abandoned this blog. Once upon a time it served a purpose.  I used it to empty out my head every now and then.  Then, quite a while ago, I found other places to distribute the stuff that was clogging up my brain… maybe not entirely emptying it out but more or less dribbling things out in starts and stops and spurts.

But now I have this ridiculously saturated medulla or cerebellum or whatever you call it and there’s no way I could possibly drain it sufficiently without coming back here. So, over the next few hours or days or however long it takes, I’mma gonna be here emptying out my brain and my heart and whatever else I can squeeze out so I can have my old self back… the one that can sleep and rationalize and communicate intelligibly, (even carry on a conversation) and emote and add and subtract.

As it stands right now, it’s 2:19am. I’m supposed to be waking up in 3 hours to go back to work after having been off for a week. Unless you count the weekends, in which case it would be 9 days. That’s how long it took to watch my mom die and see to it that she got a proper burial and deal with the aftermath. Partially, anyway.

And all that stuff up there left me with a head the size of a [insert something of impressive volume here] full of bombarding thoughts and not a clue as to how to sort them out and make sense of any of it.  I know, because I’ve spent the last four or five (I can’t even count anymore) nights trying.  And that was on top of the daunting task of trying to cry.

There’s something about watching your mother die and not being able to cry that just doesn’t sit well with me. I dunno, it just doesn’t feel normal.

Stay tuned for part two, four, five, three , seven, twelve, eight and however many more it takes to get me the hell through this.

PD’s Latest Trials and Tribs

It’s been a ridiculously long and embarrassing amount of time since I’ve written here and I apologize for that.  Sometimes there’s just no time or no words to say what you want to say.  Other times, there’s just nothing worth reporting.  More often than not, though, lately, there just hasn’t been anything good to say.

We’re having another stressful siege with PD’s health.  This time it’s not Meniere’s-related.  We don’t think so anyway.

Several months ago he started having intermittent problems swallowing.  In a relatively short period of time it became more and more frequent and it became obvious that it was time to see a doctor.  An endoscopy was set up with the intent of stretching the Schatzki ring and while they were down there it was decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a couple of snips for biopsy. That was June 10th.  He’s not been able to eat solid food since midnight on June 9th.  Yeah.

Weird part is that he’s had the endoscopy done twice before, and the ring stretched also, with no problems.  Sometimes people have a narrowing of the opening of the esophagus.  That narrowing is called the Schatzki ring and there is a procedure called an esophogeal dilation using a balloon to stretch it to enable easier swallowing.  It’s not always permanent and often the stretching is needed every so often.

Normally the procedure doesn’t merit any kind of problems or follow-up.  We have been back to the doctor once, to the emergency room and back to the hospital for more tests.  Xrays have been taken, 2 CT scans done and two barium swallows to check for perforations or tears in the esophogeal wall.  The biopsies both came back normal.

PD is having severe pain (like a very sore throat) accompanied by a kind of spasming in his neck and throat area on one side.  Often times when he is able to eat (those times are becoming more frequent, thankfully, considering that he has lost a considerable amount of weight) his throat will spasm to the point where he has to stop eating until it subsides.  He’s been able to eat yogurt, pudding, a little icecream, broth and a liquid nutritional supplement.  He was very weak for days but is getting some of his strength back.

His gastrointestinal doc is rather baffled as to what is going on.  He’s prescribed an antibiotic on the off chance of the possibility of an infection in there.  The improvement has not been great but he does feel a little better so maybe there was some infection in there.  Hard to tell.

He’s seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist on Tuesday and we’re hoping to get some answers and treatment then.  He’s angry and frustrated and I can’t blame him at all. Plus, I’m tiring of eating in the closet.  I don’t like to eat real food in front of him, he gets jealous.  And he keeps trying to smell my food and that’s just weird.

I am near the end of my 12-day vacation.  The original plan was to stay home and enjoy my house and yard and husband and get together with some friends.  Our grandson was going to spend a week or so with us.  There was a point where it seemed that a hospital stay for PD was a possibility so that plan was cancelled.  I’m not sure who was most disappointed.  As it turned out, so far, no hospital stay.  But it’s not been much fun for any of us.  But PD has gotten caught up on several hundred episodes of MacGyver and Bones.  And no, that was not fun for anyone else but PD.  Meaning me.

The Joy of Detox

Things have been a little hairy at our house lately. The kitchen renos have come to an abrupt halt due to the fact that PD is dealing with some issues.

In case you don’t know, my husband suffers from Meniere’s Disease. He was diagnosed, if I remember correctly, in 2003.  He’s been a Bilateral Meniere’s patient since 2000.  He’s on a pretty good selection of medications for the dizziness and other symptoms that go along with the disease.  He’s had surgeries that were temporary fixes.  Meniere’s isn’t a well-known disease and there is not a lot of research being done.  There is no cure but it can go into remission.

Sleep disturbances are a big part of life for PD.  He’s was on 4 medications alone to deal with that issue.  We’ve been trying to get him off some of his meds which don’t seem to be helping and/or are not covered by his medical insurance plan.  One of those meds is Clonazepam (Klonipin) and he’s been taking it for about 10 years.  After discussing it with his doctor, he followed her instructions for weaning off the drug.  That was three weeks ago and he’s been having a terrible time since.  It breaks my heart to see him come downstairs, bleary-eyed and edgy from spending hours trying to get some sleep. I now know first-hand what drug users must go through in detox, except without the benefit of other drugs to help with the withdrawal.  He’s adamant about not going back on the Klonopin and is limited in what he can take to ease the symptoms because of the other drugs he must stay on.  Just today I came across this article and will be giving it a good read.

I’m not only concerned about the hell he’s going through, as the days go by I’m getting more and more irate with the non-chalance with which some doctors prescribe these drugs.  From all the research I’ve been doing it seems to be a common problem.  I’ve also learned that he probably should not have been taking the drug for as long as he has been.  It was a low dose but taking it for so long has made the withdrawal that much more difficult.

I could make this a more lengthy diatribe on the insensitivity of the medical community but I won’t.  And don’t even get me started on the negligence of drug companies or the FDA.  What I need to stress to you is that before you start taking any medication, please please please discuss it in depth with your doctor and do some research.  Often times the “fix” is more dire than the actual problem.

And if you are so inclined, a prayer or two for PD would be much appreciated.

A Little Mid-Week Trauma

I may have told you on FB or Twitter that I’ve been seeing a chiropractor on a bi-weekly basis.  I’m supposing that this is the result of working too long in one position.  (So much for ergonomics.  Whatever…)

Anyway.  I was making noticeable progress. The day of my initial visit, I had woken up feeling like I could barely move my neck.  I felt like my whole clavicle was out of whack and the pain was making me nauseous.  I called off work that day, called the chiropractor and his lovely receptionist uttered those miraculous words, “How soon can you be here?”  That was roughly 3 weeks ago.

By this past Monday I was feeling quite human once again.  I’ve gotten in the habit of moving gracefully as opposed to using any quick, jerky movements to give my neck a nice rest and to let it enjoy it’s new “home.”  Read: where it’s supposed to be, as in no place like

And then… picture it.  I’m cleaning up my work area in the clean room at work.  I’ve been training another girl to do a job that I used to do.  It’s time for her to put information in the system and I am walking toward her to make sure she’s doing it right.  In the mean time, there is another girl, a big girl (and if I say she weighs in the neighborhood of 300+ pounds, I am not exaggerating) standing off to the side of my path.  Suddenly, the big girl steps backward, directly into me, knocking me off balance.  Before I realize what’s happening, I’m careening toward trainer girl.  Rather than crash down on her, I throw out my left arm to grab the edge of her desk to catch myself.  Hindsight being as they say 20-20, I may have been better off just crashing down on top of trainer girl.

I not only jarred my left wrist but I twisted my neck and spine (at the waist) when I caught myself.  Reading this, it sounds worse than it actually was.  It’s just that after having no less than six or seven adjustments, I now feel like everything the chiropractor has done has been un-done.  Right this minute I have ice on my wrist (new injury) and heat on my shoulders.  I imagine that in a day or two I will feel fine.  I’m due for my next adjustment on Monday evening.

I imagine the whole scene looked rather comical to a bystander.  There is me, a scrawny little 118 pounds bouncing off the back end of the big person.  It all happened so fast, I wasn’t entirely sure what hit me until the big person said, “Are you ok? I didn’t see you there.”  I’m thinking, obviously.

It’s difficult to relate this without sounding a certain way.  But there are physics in play here and it happened.  My own personal thought is that when you have a body, big or small, you tend to have a feel for the space you inhabit.  Apparently that is not always the case and accidents do happen.

On a loosely related note,  the same day I witnessed a woman very nearly get struck by a truck about 50 feet away from me.  Oddly enough, while her heart may have suffered more of a jolt than mine, she’s probly relaxing comfortably right now.

This is where I’m supposed to write the wrap-up with some intelligible thought to tie it all together and make some profound conclusion or something, right?  I don’t know what that would be.  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time like the lady who stepped in front of the truck, thinking it would stop for her.  She may have simply used poor judgement.  I maybe should have anticipated the possibility that the big girl wasn’t going to stand where she was indefinitely and that she had no idea I was behind her.  It’s not as if I’d assumed she was equipped with a beeping back-up alarm because that would just be ridiculous.  But I will tell you that until this aching reminder wears off, I will be a bit more cautious when anyone approaches MY SPACE.  lol  I totally didn’t see that coming either!  ah ha ha.

The End.

(ps. yes, of course  i know that myspace is totally yesterday’s news)

NEW YEAR THOUGHTS

For me, the start of a new year always involves some level of self-examination.  My intention is to examine my conscience and determine where there is room for improvement.  I intend to take a look at my experiences through the past year,  my victories and my struggles.  Ideally, I would build on what worked and put some strategies in place to help avoid the inevitable rough spots in the future.  In years past, this exercise usually amounts to nothing more than a quick debate in my head about whether or not to bother making resolutions.  The typical ones come up… Eat healthier, exercise more, stop procrastinating and quit smoking.  I’ve made those year after year and something in me just refuses to take the list seriously. The procrastinator in me believes that I will take those things more seriously next year.  I won’t kid you into believing that this year will be any different. I should add stop being stubborn to the list.  But that would add more pressure and just one more thing to put off for another day…

There’s also the outward examination.  I look in the mirror.  This exercise is becoming more painful as time passes.  I see the beginnings of wrink (ok, who am I kidding?)  I see the wrinkles deepening around my eyes and mouth . The gray hair taking over and the results of Mr. Gravity wreaking havoc on the rest of me.  The freckles on the backs of my hands aren’t freckles anymore (how does that happen?)  It takes me a little longer to bound out of bed in the morning and I don’t run up and down the steps as I always have. “Things” aren’t so firm and toned.  My skin requires constant hydrating to prevent it from taking on alligator characteristics… I have to constantly remind myself to stand up straight. It’s wearing me out!

Yeah, it’s bleak.  And if you’re behind me in age, I apologize if I’m scaring you to death.  But it’s a fact of life and it is frightening and I’m smack-dab in the middle of a panic.  I see so many women my age who seem to be just fine with where they are in life.  Of course, they’ve dyed the gray away in their hair.  Maybe they go to the gym faithfully.  Maybe they’ve had or are contemplating tummy-tucks and some facial reconstruction.  Maybe they’ve already experienced my panic and chose to take steps to fix things. Maybe they just don’t care.

The experiences my mom has endured this past year has forced me to look at my own stuff in a way I never have.  When I look at her, I see me in the future and I get panicky. I don’t wanna be frail.  I don’t wanna depend on other people to do things for me.  I don’t want to become bitter.  I don’t want to become bitter.  More than anything I don’t want to become bitter.

This might be the year that I change things.  Time is going to pass no matter what.  Aging is inevitable.  We’re born, we live, we die. But I don’t want to become bitter.

Let me say that I hate this post. It’s not what I wanted to say but I’m trying to work through this.  It’s giving me a hard time and I can’t hold it in.

BIG SPOILER ALERT

(Warning, this is not happy, light reading.  My apologies beforehand… And it’s not a movie review…)

I’ve recently had my future show up at my door. Unexpectedly and knocking loudly. I kind of knew that it was lurking about out there and that sooner or later I would have to open the door and invite it in.  But somehow I had convinced myself that it would patiently wait until I was good and ready to entertain it.

For most of my life I could look out the peep hole and just enjoy the view. There were lots of beautiful sights to see.  Pretty and happy sights.  Then a few years ago, one day I looked out and the picture I was accustomed to seeing seemed a bit dimmer.  Less sharp and clear and somewhat tinged.  Let’s say the colors began to look a little washed out and a sepia effect was starting to bleed in.  If you’re not familiar with a sepia tone, think old photographs.  Not exactly black and white but sort of brownish yellow.  Now picture a sepia rainbow.  There are no brilliant vivid colors, just some lighter tans fading to darker tan.  Hard to distinquish and not nearly so interesting or festive.

I don’t mean to sound all Doom’s Day-ish.  I’m speaking reality. My reality.  And using my normal look the other way tactic just won’t hold water anymore.  There’s no avoiding the inevitable.

It’s called the Circle of Life.  We’re born, we live, and if we’re lucky we have the opportunity to age and then finally die.  We move through the Seasons of our lives from Spring to Winter.  It’s gradual and barely imperceptible.  Mostly.

There comes a point, though when we’re forced to face our immortality.  This point comes in many forms.  For me, a mirror is the vehicle.  I’m not only speaking of the moment each day when I wake up and actually see my face in the bathroom mirror; when I take stock of new sags and wrinkles and skin variations that were or were not there the previous day.  Yeah, that’s not exactly a picnic. But what I’m referring to is the mirror that is my Mom.  She’s where I will be in twenty years or less.

I’ve had to open my door and look reality full in the face.  I was only slightly prepared and accepting it or not is no longer and option but a necessity.

I’ve had to realize that at some point, bounding out of bed in the morning will not be an option.  That one day I may be dependent on someone else to make sure my daily needs are attended to.  That everything about my independence that I took for granted will poof like a soap bubble in the wind.  That my dignity may be compromised.  That seeing, hearing, walking, talking, dancing, typing, and even thinking will no longer be effortless.

It will help, I know, to have a good attitude.  To have loving family and friends around to help me get by.  Good eating habits and exercise may prolong the process and maybe make it less painful or more manageable.  But only that.  There’s no escaping the end result.

I’m not sure how you deal with this, or if you’ve even had to.  But we’re all in this together and even though it’s a very personal thing, it’s something we all have to face at some point.  I have my own thoughts and feelings about what comes after and those will be my comfort and my salvation, if you will.  But you have to move from Point A to Point B and it’s not exactly a downhill slide in the sense that it’s going to be easy.  Reality isn’t exactly a smooth paved path.

Forgive me if  I’m seeming all dire and morbid.  It’s simply where I am right now.  I didn’t want to open that door.  I was content enough to just take things day by day, putting one foot in front of the other and reminding myself to exhale every so often.

I will come to terms with it all at some point.  I won’t like it and I’ll fight it with every cell in my body and every neuron in my little brain.  But right now, it’s too fresh.  Too frightening and too claustrophobic.  I just had to get this out, carrying it around was wearing me out.  I have too much else to do.  And a time frame that’s shrinking a little every day.

LIFE’S LITTLE SETBACKS

Oh… where to begin… First a little recap in case you hadn’t read my previous post.

On June 2nd,  my Mama fell and injured her hip.  This required surgery, a short hospital stay and then admittance to a nursing home where she would receive therapy for two weeks or so.  Luckily the facility is minutes from my home and I’ve been able to visit with her nearly every day.

If you’ve never had a similar experience, you understand the anxiety I experienced anticipating what it would be like to see a parent in such a situation.

Nursing homes, or the idea of them, stir up many emotions and images.  I can tell you that you’re probly pretty accurate if you imagine negative things like bad smells, lonely people,  and sights and sounds that are hard to see and hear.

The first couple of visits were real eye-openers for me.  I forced myself to “rock up” and keep my mom’s welfare at the forefront of my perspective.  Otherwise I could probly never have been able to return.  Seeing people suffer is something that tears me up.  So many sights that I’ve seen there keep haunting me and I have to consciously replace the images with more positive things, like the day we take Mom home to finish her recuperation.

I do know a couple of things for sure.  Number one, I pray that my mom never needs to return there.  Not because the care she’s received hasn’t been acceptable but because it has not been good for her emotionally.  There is no such thing as privacy or peace and quiet.  And there’s nothing like your own bed or real home-cooking when your body is healing.  Number two, I would never last a day in one of those places.  I’m not that strong.  PD and I have been discussing, at length, alternatives in case either of us are ever faced with the need.  I can’t even tell you some of the extreme measures that have been brought up, some in a humorous vein,  others, not so much.  Which brings me to a third realization I’ve had and that is this~ A sense of humor is not only desirable but absofuckinglutely crucial in the situation.

Lack of time is the only thing that’s keeping me from sharing this in a more poignant, informational and detailed manner.  I have a literal ton of things to say regarding the last 3 1/2 weeks, mostly emotional issues I’m experiencing but that will have to wait.  PD’s father had surgery yesterday and there are some things he’s going to need also.  Another story for another day…

Thanks for listening.

THE ROAR OF THE TREES

“Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side all is correct, definite, orderly; the paths are straight, the trees regular, the sun shaded; escorted by gentlemen, protected by policemen, wedded and buried by clergymen, she has only to walk demurely from cradle to grave and no one will touch a hair of her head. But on the other side all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course. The paths wind between bogs and precipices; the trees roar and rock and fall in ruin.”
~ Virginia Woolf, ‘Harriette Wilson’, Collected Essays

I read this earlier this week and when I did, it didn’t really sink in.  I was too distracted and busy with other thoughts and concerns. Something told me to go back to it and I just did.  And it more than sunk in this time.  I could have written it, with all that I’ve been feeling lately.  My first thought was, is this exclusive to women?  And the answer, I think is absolutely yes.

As women, we have the luxury of feeling protected for much of our lives.  I try never to take that for granted.  We owe so much to our men… our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, even our sons.  Not to mention all the other men who touch our lives…  And yet, there are times and situations where there is no such thing as a safety net or someone to “have our backs.”  There are times when decisions have to be made and situations need to be dealt with and it’s entirely up to us to muster our courage and our strength to do what we feel is right and necessary.  How we deal in those times are testaments to our character and either make us or break us.

I have witnessed some amazing accomplishments by women lately, in particular, in the case of my own dear Mother.  She recently fell and injured her upper thigh/hip. This required surgery and spending time in an assisted-care facility for rehab.  All during this ordeal, the “elephant in the room” which to this point has not been spoken of, but was the obvious fact that everything would have been made better somehow if my dad were still alive and here for her to lean on and offer strength and assurance.  Not only would it have made a difference to her, but to my brothers and my sister and I.  It’s a scary feeling to share the responsibility of the welfare of a parent.  If you’ve never been in this position, lucky you.  It’s daunting.  I’m hugely grateful to have a big family and to have the luxury of sharing the responsibility with siblings.  I can’t imagine having to deal with the decision-making alone, not to mention tending to her daily needs, both physical and emotional.

There’s way more I could say on this subject and what I’m feeling right now, but time prevents the saying.  The feeling, though?  That growing up is tough but that growing old is worse.  But I’m concentrating on the gratitude… that my mom is finding the strength to be awesomely amazing on her path, despite the bogs and precipices.

ALL OVER THE PLACE

(If you came here looking for anything slightly resembling humor, encouragment, enlightenment or something of merit,  do yourself a favor and shoot yourself in the foot instead.  Consider yourself warned.)

I noticed recently that the fact that I’m feeling very restless and unmotivated  could very well be the direct result of not having written much here in the past months.  Too much baggage in mah head.  I’ve totally lost sight of the reason I started blogging in the first place.   This therapeutic cleansing of the clutter clogging up my skull was the coolest cure I could come up with. (check out the alliteration, literary bitches!) And I’m still not exactly sure why I’ve quit slowed down to almost a trickle.  Yeah, I’m addicted to the instant gratification and the convenience (not the word I want) of places like Facebook.  It’s quick and easy to jot off a few words off the top of my head a few times a day as opposed to sitting in front of this BIG white box screaming at me to fill with whatever is swimming around in my brain. I come here at random intervals and am filled with a compassion much like sitting facing an old dear friend who says nothing but whose eyes are filled with a look of questioning.  I’m not sure what my friend needs or wants me to say and not sure what I’m willing to share.  Maybe not so much willing but wondering if what I have to say is what the friend wants to hear.  Is this what writer’s block feels like?  I’ve been blogging nine months short of 5 years and don’t recall ever being at a loss for blog fodder.  That really doesn’t sound like such a long time.  In reality, though, it has felt like such a big part of my life for so long that it seems much longer.

This could also be explained by the fact that my life feels to be at a standstill.  The winter thing… not just the season of the year but nearing the “winter” stage of my life.  Many things that have happened during the last year or so have forced me to slow down, made it necessary for me to let go of some “things” that kept me going full force.  We all age.  Normally it’s so gradual that we barely notice the changes.  Being that I’ve never been one to do things in a normal way, (and not always by choice) it so happens that my “gradual” was more of an instantaneous thing.  Not that it happened overnight, of course.  A bunch of events occurring and overlapping created a kind of chain reaction which resulted in a kind of head-on collison.  Much like a snowball rolling down a hill into a brick wall.  Working all that gawdawful overtime for so long caused me to get behind on so many things and that shit doesn’t just go away.  It accumulates and that glob becomes a mighty big monster.  And working long hours for a year without good sleep takes a toll on a body.  I’m not even going to address how it affects one’s state of mind.  It’s all connected.  Throw in a broken bone, a kidney stone and a drop in income (post OT) and see that glob monster?  It still doesn’t go away.  Then, gloriously, up pops a major holiday that you’re not entirely prepared for but welcome the festivities for the mental and emotional boost it provides.  Then the holiday is gone like the wind and what you’re left with is basically, a big mess,  a financial dent and an empty quiet house.  Which I could handle, as I do every year except that this year there’s an added anti-bonus.  A ton of snow and little or no sushine. (my other god.)   So if you’re reading this and “seeing” me devoid of most of what I need to get by, your picture is accurate.

Okay, so I’m experiencing a low point.  Maybe I just miss my kids.  Maybe I am just completely pissed at myself for lighting a cigarette after 6 days of cold turkey.  Maybe I simply need a new haircut.  Maybe I can’t force myself to take down my Christmas tree. (I know…)  Maybe I need medicated.  Maybe I wish that was me snowboarding in the Olympics.  Maybe I should replace my favorite jeans that are falling apart.  Maybe I should just shut up.

(I hope none of this shows on my face. I have to get my driver’s license photo taken in the morning.  Ha!)