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Monday, April 29, 2013

On my knees...


I walked into the house and remembered them from when our kids were little and we met at the elementary school.  They look exactly the same except he is thinner, bald and kind of pale.  The anguish of the situation showed on her face but other than that, she was a cool as a cucumber through the introduction except for the tear that escaped every few seconds.

"Hi, I am so glad to see you" I say "and I'm not."  "I wish we would have gotten together for different circumstances, like to drink wine" and we both laughed an uncomfortable laugh and looked away. 

I turned to him and asked, "Do you feel like telling me your story of how you got here?"  "Sure" he replied,  with as much cheerfulness that he could work up.  He began to talk about his life before cancer and during cancer and now when the treatment has begun to do more harm than good.

I watched the couple as he talked and saw the connection they have...watched as she gently wiped her tears.  She didn't take her hands off of him through the whole visit.  I glanced up at the pictures on the mantle, and lingered on the one when they were in their twenties and then looked at her.  She winked and said, " Yeah, wasn't he gorgeous?" and I nodded.  They loved each other and it was very clear that they weren't done being together.   This one, I thought about myself for a second, is gonna be really hard. 

I was sitting on the couch for the beginning and as I listened, I realized that I needed to be on the floor on my knees.  I felt it, I knew it and I did it.  I felt the usual feelings that I feel as I listen to someone who has a short time on this earth and felt honored and special and sad.  I could feel my heart aching so much to make this better, be it symptom control or a trip to the liquor store to get their favorite wine...I needed to do something.

The professional side of me remained professional..."I am here to help you have the "best" time with your family that you can have...blah, blah, blah"...but I could feel my heart pounding and my soul wishing things were different.  In my professional mode, I took vital signs and did my assessment and did my spiel hoping I seemed together, but knew my heart was showing and aching and everyone in the room could see it.  I hurt for her, but I also was in awe of her strength, her love for her husband and her fierce protectiveness.

All of a sudden, I felt like it was time to leave...I had stayed long enough and needed to be gone.  It was family time and I was not family...as a matter of fact, if I am honest, no one wants the hospice nurse to knock on the door.  I talked about the plan for symptom control and and the schedule and excused myself. 

I got in my car, stepped on the brake and pressed the button and tried to breathe.  The social worker that was with me tapped on the window and I put it down..."you are so good" she said and I said, "no, I am not."  I was thinking I am not good at all.  I  was wishing things were different and I was wishing life isn't so hard and I was wishing that things like this didn't happen.  I was not buying into this...but I am.

The professional side of me knows what I  need to do and I will do it.  The human side of me will cry when I need to and spend as much time with the family that is helpful and maybe will bring a small amount of comfort in this terrible time.

Mostly, I will be cheerleader as the family works their way through the most difficult time of their lives.  I will tell them how proud of them I am, how they have such a special family and how it is gonna hurt more than they can imagine when they are done.  But...in time, they will be proud of themselves too, know they did the right thing and know that their husband and father felt loved until the moment he left this earth...something we all want but not all of us get.

And, as I always realize as I get on my knees on that first visit...it an honor and a privelage and  I pray that I do a good job because in this situation...we don't get do overs.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Monday, April 22, 2013

No spring here...

Just in case you were wondering...It's snowing!  Baseball games were cancelled and it's cold and gray. I am trying to just keep putting one foot in front of the other...but it's getting difficult!  I think I'm gonna go to bed and hope for some sun in the morning.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

But we need the moisture...

If I am totally honest, and most of the time I am (to a fault I am told)...I hate snow in April.  If I am really honest, I am not the snow lover that I used to be.  When my kids were little and I bundled them up and watched them play in the snow, make snowmen and snow caves...I thought it was kinda fun.  I mean, when we went to Meyer's Ranch and hooked a bunch of tubes together and flew down the hill...that was fun too.  Even back then, by mid-April, Jim was hiding the kitchen knives. 

Last Sunday, when I flew into Denver from Florida, the sky was blue and it was cold but sunny.  We have not really seen the sun since..this gray sky, snow day after day when it is supposed to be spring and in the 60's just about kills me.  I can hardly handle it. 

I know that there are much worse things in life than snow in April.  We saw it the other day at the marathon with the bombs...yes, of course.  And, in case you forgot, I help people die with grace and dignity...so I get it.

Some people, me being one of them, happen to have a sad side to life that I keep tucked neatly away for most of my days.  I get up most mornings and do okay, get my coffee, work through the aches and pains, change the soaked shirt from the hot flashes of perimenopause during my sleep and think..."What am I gonna do today?" with a general feeling of positivity or at least 50 % positivity.  Now those feelings change to more than 50 % when I am on the thin side, Jim and I are getting along, and my kids are okay.  Then...there is the color of the sky factor.

I need to see the sun.  The Colorado Bureau of Tourism says we have about 350 days of sunshine every year.  They are a bunch of lying liars!  At least that is the way I feel right now. 

Then there is the moisture/wild fire factor that happens in the spring.  As soon as we don't get big snows in January, the alarm goes off in the news about our "snowpack".  Our snowpack was pitiful this year and we were being told to plan on wild fires.  Our neighborhood, my husband included, is doing a plan to clear cut the trees on a bunch of acres to save our houses when the fires come.  That's the hope anyway. 

January wasn't too good, February was also pretty dry and March was too.  The water restrictions came out in Denver and the talk continued about how "dry" Colorado is.   Whenever I would talk to someone about bad weather...the canned response was "You better not complain, we need the moisture."  I have to say, I even bought into it these last few months...when I got on the airplane last Tuesday and watched them de-ice the plane, I thought "Great, we get a bunch of snow while I'm in Florida and I can come home to spring."  Yeah, right.

The "water people" say..."Welcome to spring in Colorado, wait 5 minutes and the weather will change...ha, ha, he, he."  Well, it's been 5 minutes, and actually, it's been 3 days of almost continuous flakes of some sort falling out of the sky and as you can tell, I am not laughing. 

Even the "water people" seem to be getting a little testy...Facebook is covered with pictures of decks and lawn furniture covered with snow and snarky sayings about the seasons here in good old Colorado.  Now, the New Yorker in me says to the Coloradoan in me, "Why don't you move?" but I guess I would rather just complain, huh?

An example of what too much snow does to my family...

Jim comes up to my office and asks me how I am and I say "fine" looking out the window   "but I think I'm just gonna drink" and he laughs and walks away like it's the natural conversation of a crazy woman.

Shortly after that Howie comes up with a glass cruet for salad dressing filled with smoke to show me..."What is that?" I ask, to which he responds , "Smoke."  "Oh, do you have some pot?" I ask.  He laughs and tells me he is doing a chemistry experiment, and the smoke is from a candle.  "You gonna start smoking pot, Mom?" he says, to which I say..."If it doesn't stop snowing..."  He walks away with the same walk that Jim had...I could see him shaking his head and I am sure thinking, "this woman is crazy." 

But you know what, I am crazy and getting crazier by the gray, snowy day in Spring.

The weather folks are saying we may be coming out of this "pattern" for a few days before the next spring storm hits.  I did not sign up to live in Antarctica but it sure feels like it and what's this about the "next spring storm?" 

I am going to pour myself a glass of wine and make dinner.  When it gets dark, I am going to bed with the hope the sun peaks out tomorrow even if its for a few minutes...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry




Monday, April 15, 2013

What is going on?

I arrived back from visiting my sister in Florida yesterday where the temperature was 80 degrees and sunny.  I noticed as I was getting off the plane that I started to feel ill...tight chest and a funny cough.  Great, I thought.  The weather in Denver was sunny and cool but so glorious. 

I talked to my boys, Jim and Howie and then went to lay down.  I awoke in the afternoon with a soaked t-shirt and generalized body aches.  Lovely...it's here.  I am sick...and there is no getting around it. 

This morning, I got up, and looked outside.  It was gray and snowy and the news says we are going to have snow until Wednesday.  I had my coffee, showered and saw my patients...bolstered on cold medication.  I made it until 1 pm and came home, climbed into bed and planned on calling it a day. 

I woke up and turned the TV on.  All I could see was the bombing in Boston at the marathon...two people dead and scores of folks injured.  Why?  Is this a terrorist attack?  Is this just a crazy person who didn't get into the race and figured he would get them back?  Why would anyone want to hurt another human being just to do it? 

As I write this, a special report "Terror at the Boston Marathon" is playing on the TV.  Now we watch this and wonder.  One of the good things I can say is at least Diane Sawyer is sober as she is reporting.

What is the world coming to?  How does one continue to look at the bright side when we have people that continue to do these kinds of things?  I guess the question is more rhetorical than something that anyone can answer.  But...there has to be something.  Is it as simple as reaching out and being positive, helping someone in need, focusing on the good?  Once again, I do not know...

I am looking out my window at the falling snow...8 inches at this point and still coming down. I am counting my blessings while praying for comforting angels for the families of the dead and injured.  I am thinking about how it could be any one of us at any big event that we attend... No, the world is not safe and it probably never has been...

So we go on.  We watch the TV and hope for the best, and we tell ourselves not to be afraid.  What else can we do?  If anyone has any answers...let me know because I am all ears.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Home again...

The Queen made it home from Peru today.  I picked her up from the airport and from the moment she got into the car until the moment I dropped her off at her dorm, she talked about her trip.

She talked about little monkeys holding on to a girls hair while she was out playing and she talked about the boats she rode on and the hostels (yes, hostel, not hotels) and the hammock that she slept a lot of the time.  She talked about testing the water and how cool that was.  Then she told me of the water cycle in Peru and how the sewage goes into the rivers and that is that.  She talked about being profiled because of the blond hair and blue eyes and how one night, she was turned away from a hotel strictly because of how she looks.

When she told me of her visit to the Science and Technology museum in Lima, that was it.  I had heard enough.  I guess, she and her traveling partner that lives in Peru were taking a tour.  At one point, the tour guide was asking them if they were afraid of something (in Spanish, of course) and Christie assumed the other girl heard the word and the other girl assumed Christie heard it so they both said no.  They were taken into a room with fresh cadavers and embryos in buckets.  She said they stood there not knowing what to do while walking around looking at these bodies with their guts on the table.  I just had to laugh...only Christie Lou could handle something like this and not run out puking.  

After that story,  I told her she might have to drink to get past the trip.  You know me, nothing a few glasses of wine won't fix!

I purposely didn't want to know too much about the trip before she left.  I knew I would worry knowing the little I did, but when she was filling in the blanks, I swear it's a miracle she is home.  What a trip for a 21 year old, huh?

I remember when I graduated from nursing school and me and a few buddies decided to go to Europe.   I told my mother we were doing it and she said, "You're not going backpacking around Europe like some hippie" and I laughed and didn't say a word but in my head, I thought..."watch me, you old bag!"  So a month later, I got on a plane to Iceland and then to Luxembourg...the cheapest flight we could find, and did three weeks in Europe.  It was fun, scary and liberating.  I called home from Rome and my mother refused to talk to me because when I told her where I was, she hung up.  Now, when I am looking hard at 50, I get it, but then...I did not.

I guess my point is, I had to trust that the Queen would be okay and was making good decisions and hope that everything would be okay.  Honestly, there wasn't anything I could do to stop her and if I had said no, she would have gone anyway but would have been way more polite than I was back then.

We got to her dorm and called her brother to see if he wanted to have lunch with us.  Of course he did, so he rode his long board over to the Subway and we got sandwiches.  The whole time, they were talking and looking at pictures and eating.  I am not sure they noticed I was there but I did buy the lunch.

I sat there with my turkey sandwich thinking...this daughter of mine has some big "you know whats" to go to Peru by herself and do what she did.  So much so, that the customs guy asked if she was alone and then told her she was really brave.  Glad I didn't know you had to be brave to go to Peru two weeks ago...

We finished lunch and Mac rushed to his spanish class across campus on his long board with his beautiful new pierced ears...talk about looking like a hippie!  The Queen went back to her dorm to take a shower and get ready for the next adventure.  She had an appointment to interview for drum major for the Golden Buffalo Marching band next year.  

Hopefully, everything will work out the way it's supposed to right? I mean, it has so far, right?  I guess we just gotta trust and hope for the best...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry