oldsunbird

"I have been more outrageous and more alone and more courageous than the world has known. Passerby, my heart is like your own."

Archive for the tag “journalling”

Some Days Are Good!

February was a difficult month, physically.  Had some setbacks, saw a lot of professionals in the medical community.   No one knows what is causing my problems, so they don’t deal with it.  In the meantime, I just sort of ‘exist.’   Since I don’t get out, except to keep appointments, my life is rather dull.

I’ve lost a couple more friends.  Each time this happens, I’m filled with fear and dread.  Don’t think I need explain.

The brightness in my life has come from reading and writing.  I’ve joined an eight week writing class on Writers On the Nert called ‘Shadow Writing,’ which is digging deeper to help us get in touch with our authentic selves.  We’re in the sixth week.  I find the classes help motivate me to write.  I haven’t posted here for a while, but if it wasn’t for the class, I wouldn’t have written anything at all.  At least I have produced something for the class.

But the big news is that my last name is once again officially that of my husband of 51 years.  My lawyer called me today.  Now I just need to get a new social security card with my ‘new’ (old) name.  Hooray!  I can’t say how relieved I am.  It’s like coming home.  The other name felt so foreign and uncomfortable.  I can rest easy now.

Oh, Forrest, my love, now everything is as it should be.

More About Me

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.

Guardian Angels

During WW II, when I was in my teens and searching for love, I met a soldier at the USO, after dancing with several others, who seemed like a perfect gentleman. We danced all evening to Harry James, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey. At intervals, especially after high energy dances like the jitterbug, the soldier brought coca colas to me for refreshment.

On the sidelines, an army recruiter I’d dated a time or two, watched. As the night wore on and people, one after another left, my soldier and I became the last couple on the dance floor. I was ready to leave with him when the recruiter told my female friend that the soldier I was with, had been spiking my colas all evening and to not let me leave with him. She convinced me to go home with her as we had planned. Looking back, I’m pretty sure the recruiter saved me from a bad experience.

Sometimes I wonder how most youngsters make it in the world. I had other experiences which turned out okay but could have gone in a different direction. Today I want to honor and express my gratitude for the guardian angels/saviors in my life. I believe we all have them, whether we realize it or not, and, also,we ARE them, or can be.

Maybe one thing I can do the rest of my life to make it worthwhile is to feel responsible and care for all of God’s creatures, when the universe asks me to, even when it’s inconvenient.

 

Where is Jenny?

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.

 

WARNING: This is a pitty party of one

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.

The Dog Bed

Super soft

dusk gray

cozy

velvet pillow

arched & rising

from the floor

thick foam

bolster

to rest a chin

or lay a head

reaching out

to cradle & comfort

old joints

tired bones–

empty again

(c) Mary Harrison, 8-4-12

The Stone Angel

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.

Letting Go

It’s hard to let go of books. But I must. I just don’t have shelves enough for all of them. I had boxes and boxes of books in my auction after Forrest died. Broke my heart, but I was downsizing and there was no place for them. At least 10 boxes, but still not enough.

Now my three bedroom one story house with no basement is overflowing with “stuff.” I’m going to go through every room and eliminate everything that isn’t useful or special to me in some way. I’m starting with the books. I guess I’m a pack rat at heart, though in my other house there was room for everything.

Books are so special. They’re my second indulgence, food being the first. I don’t mark them up; I don’t bend pages; I treat them with great respect. I’m always uncomfortable when they are in others’ hands. When Forrest read one or another of them from time to time, I knew I’d get it back worn and tattered. I felt like I’d thrown one of my children into the garbage. Books are my friends. It’s not as pathetic as it sounds. I have human friends, but I’d be lost without my books.

I started reading early. In first grade I got my first library card and spent many happy hours there, leafing through the stacks, smelling leather and paper, checking a pile out to take home to read. I was sick as a child; had scarlet fever and rheumatic fever before antibiotics were available. And I had pneumonia, tonsillitis and strep throats. I spent many hours alone–reading!

Stories, thoughts, ideas, words are so very precious. And many of the authors are exceptional. I learn a lot from them; they inspire me to be the best I can be. They give me hope, faith in creation, love for nature and all creatures. They give me confidence in myself. People can do this too, but it’s tricky sometimes. Personal feelings and emotions get in the way. Some truths may be avoided for fear of offending. Besides, it’s fantastic to be able to have great minds available to you, even if on paper. And, of course, the older one gets, the less voices that are not on a page are available.

No matter where I am, I must have at least one book with me. There are books in every room of my house, except for the bathrooms and the laundry room. When I go out, which now isn’t very often, I carry one with me. If I forget to take one, I feel lost, insecure. That doesn’t happen very often.

So Ken is helping me. Earlier, he emptied three shelves above my desk and placed three boxes on the floor, one for keepers, one for donations, one for selling. I will not throw any away. I’ve started going through them, and just as I knew it would be, I’m having a hard time letting them go, some for what’s in them, others for memories they bring up. Every time I place a book in the donation or sell box, it feels like a mini funeral. But there is some consolation; the words in the books are very much alive and someone else will benefit from the wisdom between their pages. It’s nice to know that the knowledge and inspiration will be spreading.

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Miss Muffet

The rat terrier I rescued from the humane society was so scared and such a bundle of nerves, I HAD to name her Miss Muffet–Muffie for short.  I went there to look at a poodle.  The poodle was young, feisty and friendly.  Beautiful too!  But then I saw this poor little shivering rat terrier curled up in a ball and my heart went out to her.  I wanted to take her home and love her into a happy face.   She was malnourished, her ribs quite visible.  She had only six teeth, two bottom front which parked on the outside of her mouth.  And she had visible cataracts.  She shook and shivered and wouldn’t make eye contact all the way home.

When I put her in her bed, she stayed there immobile except to eat; and she ate as if the food would disappear before she got a chance to finish it.  But she wouldn’t drink water, which worried me because all creatures need water to survive.  I know that food contains some water, but certainly not enough.   I had her seen by a vet.  I wanted to know if she was dehydrated.  Well, maybe she was, a little, but not enough for an infusion.  So I started adding water to her canned dog food and she began to look better than a dog who had given up and was on her last legs.  But the fear and the shaking persisted, and her lack of desire to know anything that was going on around her.  When people came to the house and walked by her, she lay still, eyes closed, head tucked under.  She never made a sound.    As far as she was concerned, the little nest she made for herself with her body was the only safe place.  After the first time I took her out to pee, she knew what to do and never had an accident in the house.  The only times she got up or opened her eyes were to go out or to eat.

The problem with letting her out, if I tried to get her to come back in, she’d run.  Being in a wheelchair, I had a hard time going after her.  Sometimes she’d go to the far end of the yard, lie down facing the fence and make a nest there for herself.  I’d finally have to ask my son to go out and get her.

This behavior continued for weeks.  I just knew she was going to die if I didn’t do something.  I decided to get another dog in the hopes that she might respond to a canine companion better than to a human.  She’d obviously been terribly mistreated by a two legged.

After Betsy, a toy poodle, arrived, Muffie gradually began to come to life, until today it’s hard to believe she’s the same scared little thing I brought home two months ago.  She’s gained weight, drinks water, still has a great appetite, runs in the grass, has made friends with not only Betsy, but with the two cats, has shown us she knows how to bark (wow! can SHE bark!).  She and Betsy are competitive about my lap.  When one jumps up, the other follows.  They all get along beautifully, even nap together sometimes.   Muffie likes to be petted and goes in and out of the house without fear.

She still has cataracts of course and I believe they’re a little worse but we’re keeping an eye on them.  Betsy has had hip surgery for hip dysplasia but she gets around just fine.  They’re both old ladies like me.  Muffie is 7 and Betsy is 10.  We can sympathize with one another.  I’m so grateful for my beautiful companions!

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