Ken, my son who lived with me, killed himself the day after Christmas. I’m still in shock and disbelief. I’ll write more later..
I walked forty steps with my walker today. Breathless afterwards and had to rest, but it’s a beginning.
The past few weeks have been brutal, physically. Today was more of the same but I decided I can’t go on like this. I have to do something! So I pushed through discomfort and fear, clenched my teeth and just DID it! Jenny walking beside me. The sun is shining, the weather is mild. I’m alive again!
Beulah, one of my closest friends, died unexpectedly Thursday. I’m still in shock. Skip, her husband, has been ill for several years and everyone thought he would go before Beulah. As a matter of fact, he’s been in ICU for over a week.
I don’t have details. Don’t know if she had a stroke or died of a heart attack or what. She was home alone. Her daughter found her.
Beulah was such a lovely, caring, upbeat person. When she walked into a room, the sun came with her. She worried about her husband so much and I think she must have neglected herself. She seemed well and always said she felt fine when I asked how she was. She was taking meds for hypertension, but all my friends do that, as do I. We talked about two weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about calling her. Procrastinating, as usual. I’ve done that so much, you’d think I’d learn. I feel such a void in my life.
I talked to Connie, another friend, today. She’s just been discharged from the hospital where she was being treated for a cluster of clots in her left lung. She’s on coumadin now.
And Ken, my son, is going tomorrow for a test to determine if he has an aortic anuerysm.
Beulah, bless her heart; I can just imagine, with Skip in the hospital, how she went back and forth to be with him, probably not eating right, getting too much salt, being stressed out because of his illness. I feel so bad for her. The world is not the same without her in it.
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I wish I had a strong faith to get me through. I’ll work it out. I always do, but I do have issues with death and loss and being alone. At my age, loss is inescapable. Always knocking at my door.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is on the TV tonight. Scott loved that movie. He watched it every year. I’m surprised at how just knowing its on fills me with dread. It’s been 13 years since Scott killed himself and I still can’t watch his favorite programs, look at his photos, his handwriting, anything that reminds me of him. He loved sizzlers, Seinfeld, Star Wars, roast, rice and gravy.
I often wonder what he would look like now, if he’d be married, if he’d have children. I loved him so much. I still can’t believe he’s gone. And I miss him.
I’ll be glad when Christmas is over. Next, I have to get through his birthday, January 9th. He’d be 49. The hurt never goes away.
About the only thing that motivates me these days is my girl, JennyPenny. I’m lucky to have her. Otherwise I’d probably just sit here and rot. But she has to be fed twice a day, watered, let out about every hour or two and get her medicine twice a day. Which means I have to get off my duff, if only to transfer from bed to wheelchair, and move myself around. Yes, that’s right. Bed! Embarrassing as it is, I spend most of my day on my bed. Reclining, with legs stretched out, back supported by pillows.
And that has got to change. The longer I stay here in my bedroom, the more strength I lose and the weaker I get. I notice my legs aren’t as sturdy as they used to be. I’m losing muscle. Just a small amount of exercise leaves me weak and breathless. If I stand longer than a few minutes, my blood pressure goes up too high. Then I feel light headed and faint. It’s a viscous circle. The longer I stay on my bed, the worse I feel and the worse I feel, the more I want to operate from my bedhome.
What’s operating most in this viscous circle is fear. The physical problems, along with the consequences of not pushing myself, are real. And scary.
I know I could do better. I’ve got to just DO it! Start slow and build up. I don’t know what I can regain of what I’ve lost, but something, I’m sure. Yesterday I walked back and forth in the sun room about four or five times holding onto a walker and felt no ill effects. I’ve got to do this every day. And I’ve got to move out of my bedroom into the sunroom.
It’s bright and pleasant there, with a view of the yard, my neighbors, and vehicles going down Luster. There’s a world out there I don’t want to lose contact with.
My love for the bedroom started when I was a small child and sick. I spent much time in bed reading, writing, dreaming. Even when I wasn’t sick, I could hide out in my room from my brothers, who loved to tease me. I was the only girl in the family until after I graduated from high school. After I had Rheumatic Fever and a mitral valve prolapse, Mother became very protective of me. She wouldn’t let me do heavy chores or go for long walks. Once, in high school, when my classmates went on a hike, I sat in the back of a pickup which was transporting the picnic supplies to our destination. The message was: I was different from everyone else, weaker, not quite up to snuff. It’s a concept I’ve had to fight all my life and am still having problems with in my old age.
But now, I have to find the strength and courage to change my concept of myself and to be more active, to live a normal life.
I just started following a blogger whose husband is ill and she has to care for him. Almost all her thoughts and moves are affected by how her husband will react. She plans her life around him and his needs.
I understand where she’s coming from; I, too, was once a caretaker for my husband. Keeping him safe and happy was my life’s work. It was difficult at times, but mostly it was rewarding.
And this is why:
We were in our late 70’s when he became ill. Our children had long left the nest and lived in other towns. We’d lost two sons, along with many other friends and relatives. We mostly had just each other. I was a retired psychiatric nurse, and chose that profession because my heart went out to those in need and I wanted to help them. I especially related to the sick, as I’d been quite ill as a child, often separated from friends and family, trying to deal with my fears and discomforts alone. My mother took good physical care of me but was too busy or unaware of how to comfort a sick, scared child. She never spoke of or explained my illnesses to me. Basically, I was just put to bed in a bedroom and left to my own devices.
Mother had always wanted to be a nurse, but she lost her father and brother before penicillin was discovered and had to quit school and go to work to help with the family bills. Her nursing aspirations were carried into her adulthood. She saw that I and my bed were clean and that I was well fed. When I had Scarlet Fever, she rubbed my rash with calamine lotion. She boiled my sheets and everything that came out of my room. When she learned that I had Rheumatic Fever, she cried on the bus on the way home from the doctor’s. I knew then that something bad was wrong with me, but I had no idea what it was or what was going to happen. The treatment for Rheumatic Fever back then was bed rest. There were no medications to treat it with.
Anyway, after I retired as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I missed practicing my calling. And with the boys gone and no one to take care of, I needed a reason to get up in the morning.
My husband was a strong, controlling individual. He made the important decisions in our family, and I was happy to let him do that. I’ve always been a sensitive, introverted individual, never really sure of myself, afraid to take the initiative.
Then, after Forrest became ill, first with Alzheimer’s, then with COPD, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and colon cancer, I gradually had to become the decision maker and performer of all the household duties. I gained confidence, and, in fact, enjoyed being responsible.
But most of all, I enjoyed taking care of my husband—cooking his meals, buying his special treats at the grocers, seeing that he had his oxygen, clothes to keep warm, bringing his meals to him in the TV room after it was too much effort for him to come to the table, taking him to his doctors’ appointments, wheeling him in the wheelchair. We’d sit on the patio, watch the birds build nests, the trees grow, flowers bloom. Sometimes, we’d watch TV together, or I’d watch while he slept in a chair across from me. We were together. We connected. Not only was he allowing me to care for him, he was enjoying it. Sadly, it was our best time as a married couple.
The woman I spoke of at the beginning of this blog lives in Australia on a bird farm. Our experiences with illness are not quite the same, but, still, I can empathize with her. Her blog address is: http://jmgoyder.com/ She’s courageous, admirable and an inspiration. I think you might find her blog worth the visit.
She had her first grooming since her move to Missouri. I hired a woman who drives a mobile unit and does the transformation in the driveway. This week, she had to park in front of the house as there were other vehicles in the drive.
Jenny was at the door in a hour, looking like a little skinned rat! My sweet girl has been hiding under a huge fur ball and now she’s clipped almost bare. The top knot too short and her ear hair cut in half! Her beautiful, long, lovely ears! I wish I knew how to transfer photos from my iphone to wordpress, but, sigh, I haven’t learned that yet. I hope the top knot and ears will grow out again.
She’s still sweet and lovable and my best friend. She follows me everywhere I go. This minute, as I type these words, she’s snuggled up against me, sleeping.
It’s 7:00 P.M. Ken’s been gone since 3:00. I keep the TV on to drown out the silence. I have such a hard time being alone. I loved it when I worked three jobs and had family coming and going. Then, time alone was rare and precious. Now, I have entirely too much of it. The warmth of my loyal companion is relaxing and soothing. I’m so grateful she’s in my life.
Forrest and I met when we were both seniors in High School. Four somewhat stormy years later, we were married. We started having children two years after the wedding.
When Forrest was a graduate student at Purdue University, I stayed home with our baby. It was great while Forrest’s best friend, Dale and Dale’s wife, Connie, were there. Connie and I had been close. We’d shared meals, shopped, done everything together during my pregnancy. Forrest was a good student and seldom available.
When Chris, our baby, was just months old, Dale graduated and moved to another state. I was alone. Even when Forrest was home, I felt alone because he was busy with his research and other school work.
After the birth, I had postpartum depression. I began to have panic attacks. I was afraid to stay alone, afraid to go outside. I wouldn’t go out of the house, not even into the back yard.
After months of fear and panic, I pulled myself out of the depths by sheer force. I had to stay alone after Forrest accepted a job. I distracted myself by watching TV–our first TV. I looked out the window often, searching the area for people, feeling safer if I saw someone near.
One day, I decided I’d take a bus to the square, go into a department store, Heers, and buy a lipstick. Then I’d get on another bus and return home. That’s what I did. I can’t tell you how hard that was.
I gradually licked my panic and fears and was able to enjoy life once more.
Forrest and I spent 59 years together before he died. He’s been gone for five years. During that time, I’ve lived alone and with my son. I’ve never liked being alone, but now, I find myself nearing panic again at times when Ken, who is now living with me, is at school.
I never share how uneasy I feel, not even with my best friends. But I’m sharing it with you, my blogging buddies. I’m fighting it again and find it easier this time. Some days are worse than others.
I hope to explore reasons why I’m afraid to be alone. On some level, I believe I already know. It probably begins with the illnesses I had in my childhood that kept me isolated much of the time. Maybe even before that.
A month after I was born, my seventeen year old mother became pregnant with my brother and sent me to another state to live with my grandmother. After he was born, I was sent to live with an aunt.
Who knows how such experiences affect the psyche of a developing human being? I hope to find some answers by writing about my life. I hope to find some answers, and solutions, to my problems, because the problems close doors to my being all that I can be.
I fell apart after Betsy died and can’t seem to recover. Have episodes of increased BP, nausea, blurred vision, ringing ears, passing out. I’m anxious and depressed. Don’t know if it’s stress or something else. I’ve had these symptoms from time to time, but it’s more often now, and more severe. It’s getting harder to hold on to a positive outlook. In the past three days, I’ve been to the ER and seen three doctors.
I’m living the days I’ve dreaded for a long time. I’m old. I don’t like it, but I’m old, alone and lonely. I’d love to have another furry companion but I’m afraid to get one. Will I be able to care for her/him? Would it be fair to the animal? So I go through the rooms my precious ones have filled and the rooms are so empty!
A nurse from St. John’s Home Health Care was here today interviewing me. Can they help? I hope so. My spirit has been broken before. I hope I can heal it once again.
It would be wonderful to have just one person in the world you know cares what happens to you. Seems to be a necessary requisite for survival. I’ve always known why old souls in convalescent homes just shrivel up and die.
Enough said. Tonight, I pray for the strength and courage to heal myself.
I found a new author, new to me that is, Canadian Margaret Laurence, a novelist. I don’t usually read fiction but was drawn to “The Stone Angel” because it’s about a 90 year old woman who’s not ready to ‘pack it in yet. It’s about her process of coming to terms with her decline and mortality. It’s an accurate picture of what it’s like to grow old and lose your independence. I relate to and sympathize with not only Hagar Shipley, the old woman, but also with her daughter-in-law who is her caretaker until she is moved into a nursing home.
I was formerly the one and now I’m the other. But not quite. I have no one to care for me, should I ever need a caretaker. If I want to die at home, I’ll need enough funds to hire caretakers. It’s a difficult position to be in. One wants to live, but one also wants to die before the funds run out. I pray for good health and a fast death, when the time comes.
A morbid subject? Yes, but at my age, you think about those things.
On a much more pleasant note, I spent the day posting some poems on my poem page. And sorting through more books. I’m afraid the ‘keeper’ box is filling up much faster than the ‘donate’ box. I find books I’ve misplaced and ones I’d forgotten I had. I want to stop and read so many of them, but if I do, I’ll never get this job done. It’s a good feeling to know that they’re there waiting to be read when I have the time.