Sunday, October 28, 2012

Things are things...

Last week has been one for the record books.  I started Monday trying to get caught up from last week with charting and paperwork and work stuff.  I made it to exercise class but because I am a snooty old bag, I didn't like the class and decided that I would find something else to do on Monday mornings.  Needless to say, nothing went as I thought it should.  Tuesday came along and I started to have these weird shooting pains in my head.  I knew I was on the verge of a headache...probably a migraine, and went along just hoping not to have a stroke.  I ended up in bed at 6 pm thinking I could sleep it off.  Well, that didn't work.  I had the same issue on Wednesday, Thursday and felt a little better on Friday.  Jim and I went to our friends 50th birthday party at a restaurant and  wouldn't you know it...into my second margarita...the headache was gone!

We had a great time and celebrated a milestone in a friends life that we have known for 25 years!!!  

But,  the marching band had a competition and I was committed to make soup for about 75 and it was to be ready on Saturday.  When Jim and I got home, we cut up ingredients and put the soups on.  We made chicken noodle and beef stew for the gang.  We set the alarm hourly to get out of bed and stir it...hoping it would be edible by morning.  The alarm went off for good at 6 am and we got up, he left to hook up the trailer and get it loaded for the trip.  I got the soup ready for traveling...still feeling pretty good and thankful for that.  I drove down to the high school where the kids were going to play and BOOM...I started to see white spots before my eyes.  I had to pull over because my vision was going fast...here comes that migraine I have been waiting for all week!  When Jim pulled in with the instruments, he took one look at me and knew I wasn't right.  I went to lie down in the front seat of his truck but it smelled weird and I had a nice gagging session and moved to sitting on the wall outside.  After about an hour, it all passed and I was as good as new.

It was a great morning, the kids put on a great show and we fed them like little kings and queens.  As lunch was winding down, I sat in a camp chair to eat my lunch, twisted my rings around so they were comfortable, looked down and was stunned.  My middle diamond on the anniversary ring that Jim bought me on our 10th anniversary was gone...a big hole in the setting with the two little diamonds still intact.  I was speechless, yes, me...speechless.  Jim looked over and asked me what was wrong and I couldn't speak.  

We looked and looked and looked... anyone who was in the area heard the story and they looked with us.  Finally, I felt guilty that these parents who had come to watch their kids were spending time looking and I told them that I am giving up.

The loss bothered me all day, but not in what I thought was an appropriate way.  I felt ashamed that I hadn't paid attention to my ring, that I didn't know the diamond was loose and that it could fall out...I wasn't being responsible.  I apologized to Jim for being so scattered to which he replied, "I knew that when I married you."  I told him again that I was serious...and he said one of the wisest things he has ever said to me..."Terry, it's just a thing...if it means that much to you, we can replace it."  

Today, my cell phone had a text on it from my patient's husband...it read..."Hi, Terry, she's having more pain today and we would love for you to come over and see us if you can."  I was on my way to the grocery store, exhausted from yesterday and kinda mad at myself still.  I texted back "On my way" and headed over.

This patient is one of the younger people that I am caring for and it is getting really close to the end.  She has been home from the hospital for almost a month... "borrowed time" we talk about since they never expected her to have this much and this kind of time.  

I knocked, walked in, washed my hands at the sink and sat at the chair next to the bed..."what's going on ?" I asked.  The patient explained in a slow and exhausted voice..."I have this pain in my back, kind of like a softball is wedged  in there and I can't move any way to make it stop."  We talked about when this started, the quality of the pain, what helps if anything (the "nurse" things)  and then came up with a plan.  I found myself asking the questions that, with this patient, I dreaded..."Have you seen and talked to everyone you wanted to?  Is there anything else you feel like you need to do before you go..and the last one, are you okay being sleepy?"  She answered them all without hesitation..."I'm done, I've done it all... and I'm kinda tired of being in limbo."  I looked across the room at her husband...noticed the tears in his eyes, and he gently shook his head to acknowledge that this how she feels.

We increased her medication for pain, I talked about all the things we can do to keep her comfortable and if she doesn't want to be sleepy, we can deal with that too.  They listened, reviewed the plan with the medications and it appeared to me, that they felt some control and comfort with the situation.  I asked her if there was anything else I could do or say to make things better...to which she replied "no."  Then she asked my why after all these weeks of being comfortable, she was having pain.  I replied as gently as I could that  it was probably the cancer, growing in areas that cause this kind of pain and she nodded that she was sure that was it.  

She wanted to know what it was like to die...when it gets closer to the end and what she will feel like...some of the best and worst conversations of  my life.  I told her that she would get sleepier...more tired.  I told her that she would probably begin to detach from the worries of this world and hopefully when the time comes, she will go to sleep.  Her husband and I told her that he will be okay...not okay really, but he will go on and get out of bed every day and do what he has to do.  I mentioned what a wonderful man she picked and how he is taking such great care of her these days...and we all started to cry. 

When my visit was almost over, I asked if I could come tomorrow to see her and she agreed.  As I started to leave, I had this intense feeling of wanting to pick her up and hold her...rock her...but instead, I asked her if I could give her a kiss on the forehead...to which she said "sure" and  I walked out. 

As I was walking to my car, I thought about the weekend and how sad I was about losing a diamond, a thing...a replaceable thing for a ring on my finger...then I thought about this husband and how he was going to be sad about losing his wife...the love of his life.  

I may be able to buy another diamond (after we pay for college) but I will never have that night at the restaurant with our dear friends, the late night cutting up onions, laughing with my husband about how old we are getting while cooking for the band kids or watching them perform the show twice. I am also sure that I will never be able to sit with this courageous couple in the darkest moments of their life together, and have the honor of offering love, solace and control when they need it the most.

A diamond is a thing, albeit a pretty thing...but the rest of the weekend is what my life is about and if I look at it that way...it keeps everything else in perspective.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Losing ground...

I'm putting on the weight I lost.  In the Joy family...when we refer to someone who is putting on weight, we say they "blew up."  The conversation usually went something like this..."Have you seen so and so lately, I wonder how she is doing?" to which my brother, Uncle Joe, would reply, "I saw her at the store...she blew up."  I didn't think a thing about that phrase until my husband heard it at a family gathering and burst into laughter.  I didn't understand what was so funny but now, when we get together and I hear it...it is kind of funny.

So, as in the Joy fashion...I am blowing back up.  I am still exercising 5 days a week and was eating well but slowly it's creeping back on.  My pants are getting tighter, my skin is jiggling more and I can just tell.  Not good...

As for most people who have weight issues, it is on my mind all the time.  "What should I eat?" I think when I come out of my exercise class starving.  "I'll have a cheese stick and some water" I tell myself.  Then, I eat that and am still starving and am just mad that I am still fat when I eat stuff like that.  It is a most vicious cycle.

Last week, when I was feeling really fat and mad, poor Jim walked up to me at my computer.  I looked over at him and if looks could kill, he would have been lying on the kitchen floor.  He was too close to me and looking over my shoulder.  Don't ever read over my shoulder especially when I am fat and premenstrual and perimenopausal!

After exercise class, I decided that I am overly hormonal and may, if the conditions are right, eat a whole chocolate cake with a gallon of ice cream and if Jim comes near me...kill him.  I needed to get some help and fast.  So guess what I did...I headed to the Vitamin Cottage and walked directly to the menopause aisle and started reading all the bottles.  I need something fast to even me out before I do blow up and kill someone in the same sitting!!!

I settled on this mid-priced menopause herbal pill that should even me out.  It was about 30 dollars for the bottle and should last 30 days.  Just buying these things made me feel more benevolent towards my husband.  Just for good measure, I bought a bottle of the green coffee bean pills that I heard about on Dr. Oz.  Those are supposed to get rid of belly fat right away.  Okay, I was feeling really good and felt like I have a plan for the next wave of craziness.  Life was gonna be good from now on.

I got in the car and decided, hey, what would it hurt if I took the new pills now...maybe by lunch time, I wouldn't be ready to chew on the table leg or the person next to me's leg and I would seem somewhat normal.  Well, guess again.  The pills are about the size of a large grape.  How the frick am I supposed to choke that down every day...black cohosh or not?  Listen, I was so desperate that I did.  It was painful but I did it.

My friend at the gym swears by these things.  She said her sister was about to ruin her life and then she got these pills from Vitamin cottage and changed her life.  Needless to say, I was waiting.  The day went on, the intensity of my self loathing and husband loathing ebbed and flowed and nothing different happened.  I was and still am, just a nasty middle aged woman who is blowing up.  

Early afternoon, my husband called me to "check in".  I married a brave man, I must say.  He said he noticed that I was a little "out of sorts" and did I want to go out on a date.  "No, I don't" I said thinking I was probably doing him a favor, "I'm going to Wine, Women and Whatever at church."  I could hear to audible sigh of relief.  Then I went over to the high school to pick up my youngest and take him home.  "What are we doing tonight, Mom" he asked and I stated again that I was going to church.  "Then can we stop at Safeway and I will get some steaks and potatoes for dinner for Dad and I?"  he said joyfully.  "Sure" I said not knowing how to take that.   I think he was too polite to say what he was thinking...a night without her gritching and complaining about Dad and I...a night where we can put the ball game on and hang out without her calling up from upstairs to ask us to do something...this is gonna be awesome.  "I bet you'll have a good time tonight', he said.  Smart boy, that son of mine.

The Wine, Woman and Whatever night was good actually.  A few of us are in our late 40's feeling different than we did in our thirties and even early 40's.  We painted bowls for a fundraiser, drank wine and discussed our lives.  We live each others lives, in different fashion and with different tools... 

When it was over, a few of my buddies wanted to stay out, so we went down the road to a little bar and sat and visited about our kids, the high school ones, the ones that are out of the house, the ones getting married.  It was very different than when they were little ones at home and we worried about birthday parties, sports teams and what instrument they should play.  This was about our hopes and dreams for them as they begin to  navigate the real world.  We also talked about our lives, the different path it takes when we are without kids at home, when our bodies are not behaving and when we feel kinda crazy.  Nothing a few glasses of wine couldn't make better though.

So hey...I'm blowing up.  I am not happy about it and I am not giving up but I am gonna get real about whats going on.  Late 40's is late 40's...belly out in front, skin falling off the bone and more aches and pains than I want to talk about.  

Tomorrow, I'll take a run at it again, hit the gym, take my mid-priced menopausal pill and try not to choke and I will definitely take the green coffee bean pills and see where the belly fat goes...I am not too proud!

Here's to estrogen declining, testosterone taking over and trying not to become a man...so there!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Just talkin'...

The house is looking great...maybe the maid came.  Oh wait, I don't have a maid.  What I did have was a Saturday without marching band, feeding kids and being away from home.  I did "check in" on a couple of my patients, but it was amazing how much I got done.

I woke up at 7:45 this morning, sat and drank coffee and pondered the time that was unscheduled before me.  What to do with most of a Saturday...

As I was sitting at the table, my teenager noted that the kitchen smelled...like garbage, Mom...haven't I noticed? Uh...yeah...someone should take out the garbage, I thought.

But, to be honest, I let the house go.  It was dusty, cluttered and the floor was like a bar after a long night of drunks spilling beer...filthy.

The laundry was piled up and I can't remember the last time I changed the sheets on my bed.  I have been going at a pace that affords me to ignore most everything except how tired I am and after dinner...all I can think about is bed.

I began in the kitchen, gathering dirty dishes and recyclables to go in the dishwasher and garage.  That made a dent in the clutter but underneath it all was pretty bad.  The counters were filthy and gritty and it took two swipes to get them clean.  I was on a roll so I kept going.

Once I got the kitchen done, I swept and mopped the floor.  I told my husband that if he walked in the house with his shoes...I would kill him.  I, the maid, was cleaning and he better watch out.  I think he understood because he stayed in the garage the rest of the day.

When I was finished or should I say I was done for the day, the house looked pretty good.  I also made a pot of meatballs for pasta tonight and it was outstanding.  I was amazed at what I can get done when I have a moment.

Here's the thing...I have been choosing "not to have a moment" my whole mothering life.  If I had a choice between doing something or watching something that my kids are doing or staying home and doing chores...the chores can wait.  Sometimes I can get away with it cleanliness-wise and sometimes I can't.   This was a week that I could not.

I can honestly say, I love a clean house.  I love to look around and not see dust and dander, to walk on the floor with bare feet and not feel grit and to cook in a clean kitchen.  Too bad it doesn't last very long but for the moment, I am basking in clean...

Not to change the subject but I am going to...

I love living in Colorado.  I think it is an awesome place to raise kids.  To say that I am devastated along with most of Colorado by the latest crime is an understatement.  This is one the worst crimes...the killing and dismembering of a regular 10 year old girl that was walking to school.  How could anyone be so cruel, crazy or just plain mad?  From all accounts, this kid was nothing but a normal 10 year old girl loving her family, her elementary school and playing with her buddies.  Why this happened to her is a mystery.  The scary thing is, this crazy guy is probably still out there...watching other kids and possibly planning his next hit.  I hope they catch him soon and put him away for life.  

On Thursday, Jim, Howie and I went up to Boulder to see the Buffs play and mostly watch the marching band.  My two are in band and seem to be having the time of their life.  I was so happy to see them and they both looked so happy...a mother's dream.  The football team, by the way, stunk it up but as the Queen always says, "Band team always wins" and they sure did on Thursday night.

I am busy at work which means that I have folks that are living their last days.  My patients seem to be doing really well, being really brave and making sure that they make every day count.  I have been trying desperately to learn from them but have been fighting a little bit of what I call "purple funk".  The weather is changing, I cut down on my exercise time from 6 days a week to 5 and have put on a few pounds...all in the mid-section.  This middle age, pre/peri-menopause stuff is for the birds.  I want my vim and vigor of my late thirties/early forties back!!!

Back to death and dying and I will wrap this up. 

Typically, when a family has a loved one at home, they get to a place of acceptance and wish that the person would go so they won't suffer anymore or so they don't have to be the shell of the former self.  I tell them, actually every family, that the person will die as they lived.  If they were tough and they went at life on their terms, they are gonna die that way.  Death and birth are a lot alike, it is a process.

I think living our life is a process too.  We get up in the morning, go about our business, try to do the best we can and go to bed.  We take care of babies, the house, our job, our spouse and time marches on.  

Speaking only for me, I notice the passage of time more keenly as I watch my kids leave the nest, my body and energy change and more and more folks leave either this earth or to try new paths.  It makes me think about being more aware of everything, letting things go that don't matter and making sure that folks know I care about them...a lot.  

So while I love a clean house...gonna let that go because when I am in the living room in my hospital bed with my kids and grand kids tending to me because I am in my last days...hopefully I won't care if the floor has been mopped or the counters have grit.  Hopefully I will think, I didn't waste a bunch of time worrying about that!

Sorry about rambling on...
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,