Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Assisted living...

And so it begins...

Today is the day my mom returns to California, to spend her time relinquishing herself of as many personal items as she can bear to part with. It appears that over the course of the last two weeks, as we've visited assisted/independent living facilities here in our fair city, she has finally come to terms with moving back into our "rainy" environ.

You see, she hates the weather here. Absolutely loathes it, really. She is convinced she is a sufferer of SAD (Sun Affective Disorder?), the condition where she gets depressed unless she has a healthy dose of sun every day. Each and every place we visited, she asked whether she would be allowed to install lamps with vitamin D lights -- of course, we had no detractors.

But she has come to terms, at least it seems, that she must return to Tacoma. While one could argue the point, since three of her children, plus five grandchildren (and 2 spouses), live here, she really is just hoping to reconnect with her family in her later years.

She has spent the last 12 years in California, living near to her eldest child. However, with her husband's passing three years ago (is it really that long?) and her 81st birthday having arrived this year, plus the addition of an Alzheimer's patch to her medical regime, even she can't deny that being closer to the bulk of the family is the best choice.

I am saddened. It's difficult to believe that these are the times we find ourselves in. It's a bit overwhelming to know that in the next few years I will become pretty accustomed to the terminology that surrounds the physical/mental and care tactics for an Alzheimer's patient. I am looking forward, though, to being available for her medical visits. At this time, being long-distance supporters, we are at the mercy of HIPPA (spelling?), where most of the information we get comes from mom. It's impossible to argue with the medications she's being given, or the fact that over the last few years she's undergone more surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer. One doesn't need to speak with the doctor to understand these things.

But that being said, I really want to talk to a doctor. Her doctor. Most of my information comes second and third-hand, from mom, from my sister, from the internet. I want to sit in the room when he/she explains to mom the possibilities for progression, what can we expect, what should we/she do for her. And I know that once this happens, I will be sorry that it's what I wanted. There will be no denying at that point. But doesn't having more and better information allow a person to be more proactive? At least with knowledge in hand, you must make a move. A move can be to "not move." But it's still a choice at that point, an informed choice.

Today's blog is about Alzheimer's, breast cancer, old age, assisted living. But today's blog is also a celebration of sorts. One that speaks of 81 years of real living, of making it to a point in a life where you can say you didn't leave too many stones unturned. My favorite card on the planet is the one that points out that the alternative to having a birthday is to not be here to have it. 81! 81 birthdays! And, no, we're not done yet.

Here's to many more happy ones...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New neighbors!

An older couple (what does that mean?) has just moved into the middle of the three new houses on the corner across from us. Too bad I'm not really good at baking pies! I do need to come up with a gift to take over and introduce myself, but what? If the roses didn't have bugs, I could take them some flowers. Being allergic myself, I flinch at that. :-)

Funny that I feel the need to connect with this couple, as I've lived here almost 9 years and I hardly know the rest of my neighbors. We kind of live on an isthmus, facing no one, with a house behind and one to the side, but far back. There's no actual house right next-door. I've had conversations over the years with the two houses closest, but there's a guy across the street and behind us who has been nothing but non-neighborly. I think he's the reason we just haven't gotten involved in the homeowners association. He really is mean and kind of weird. Was only nice when he wanted us to help him sue someone (which we didn't).

So maybe the new people are a light in the dark? Haha. I do like my neighborhood, but really because we live kind of separate. I work so much, I don't have time during the day to get to know my neighbors. This way there's no expectation.

So... Do I bring a pie? Some brownies? Or do I just let this pass and not get involved? Not sure yet, but I'll keep you posted... :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Where are my neighbors?

Busy, busy, busy! Big project at work -- so I'm going to have to work all weekend. Send any positive thoughts you have, so it goes well! It's all right, I believe all of the i's have been dotted and t's have been crossed; we've done all of the appropriate homework and everything should run smoothly. Having said that, one never knows. :-)

Taking on the management of another division has provided me the opportunity to see this project through, though I didn't get to pick the third-party consultant who is responsible for the real work. They do seem to be good, I've been pleased so far with their progress. It would have been nice to be the one to choose who would do the project. Que sara, sara. Or is it Que cera, cera? If I had the time this morning, I'd go check!

I love the internet, it has so much information. I'm the person who sits next to you at work who, when a question comes up that no one really is certain about the answer, my favorite thing is to be able to enter the appropriate Google search string and give you the answer as quickly as possible. Not that I do it very often, I don't, but I love that it's all available to us. And, though for most people this is a negative, I also love that it's up to each person to find the right answer, that not all of the answers are right, that you have to use your head to make certain you go the right direction and follow the right trail of breadcrumbs.

My husband will pose random thoughts just to see if he can bait me to hit the internet and give him the info he's seeking. He doesn't really need to know, he just likes to see me get excited when I can find it in less than 10 seconds. It's something that I really love about him.

It's only a matter of time before someone coins a phrase for this disease, if they haven't already! See, now I really am feeling the need to go out and see if there is a "moniker" for those of us who are continual researchers of the digital variety. But not this morning! Got to get to work!

Well, if anyone knows, maybe you can look for me? I know you guys are out there on the internet, too, and you're obviously kind of addicted -- isn't that why we're here? Or is it that we're here because we're trying to connect to other people in the new online era that has replaced people talking to each other over the back fence? Where we used to feel comfortable knocking on our neighbor's door and stopping in for a cup of coffee, now we rely on our laptop to connect us to friends, online neighbors, and others with interests like ours. Is there harm in it?

Seriously, while I do believe that it's good to be able to connect to people like me, there was a special talent or learned ability to get along and be friends with your physical neighbors that I believe we've lost as a people. When our neighbors all the way down the street and back up the other side were the people we related to, we made it a goal to get along with them. Now I don't even know their names. I have never borrowed a cup of sugar from any of them. I don't know whether they have children.

When we parked our motorhome in front of our house for a day to get ready for a trip, though it is legal to do that for three days, a neighbor of ours -- and we don't know who -- took the time to type up a letter to each of our neighbors complaining that we were blocking the view at his intersection. The only reason we knew that this was true was because he also posted it on the window of the RV.

What has happened to being nice? Why do we have to antagonize? People are going out of their way to pick fights, to make a point, to create an issue.

After we received the lovely letter, we packed as quickly as we could and moved the vehicle, but seriously, it was very inconvenient for us. Not that anyone cared. The blocking of the view, really, wasn't that bad. I checked. It's like this person just needed something to complain about. Or were they really just reaching out to make contact?

We may never know. I will go to work today, spend all day there, and go back tomorrow. When I come home tonight, and tomorrow night and the day after, I will come into my home and spend the evening with my family -- and my computer. I won't go next door, I won't borrow sugar, I won't learn their names, and they won't do the same for me. Where, after all, has the "neighborhood" really gone?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Some photos from my trip...

Zebras abound... This is a photo of a Grevy's zebra.
Native to Kenya, they are more delicate with skinnier stripes than their cousin.

A view from our tent in Samburu, looking towards the "Brown River" or, in Swahili, Uaso Nyiro.My favorite, the giraffes. A learning opportunity for me, I never realized before just how beautiful they are. This photo is also from Kenya, showing the reticulated giraffe, which is one of Kenya's "Big 5."

Around the world...

I know I haven't mentioned it, but the photos of the sunsets you see on my page are from my trip last year to Africa. Having never ventured outside of the U.S., except a few times to nearby Canada (Victoria, Abbottsford, Vancouver) and once to Tijuana (:), my trip last year was a milestone -- and in more than just a leap of continents! I had a pretty big birthday and was able to visit Africa during my 50th year and actually during my birthday month.

I'm going to have to put up some of my photos from the trip, as photography is kind of a hobby for me. It helps define me, though I'm not really good at it. I'm good enough to recognize great photography -- and good enough to know that mine isn't. :-) But it still satisfies something in me that struggles toward creativity, even in the safe vein of digital camera technology.

Traveling to Africa was a trip of a lifetime -- I'm not extraordinarily wealthy and won't be able to make a trip like this again for quite some time, if ever. I'm so glad I did it, and I'm grateful to my husband for supporting my want to go. A lucky person, I was able to go with a couple of friends who have extensively traveled, so safety was on my side. I would never have gone alone! Though as part of the bulk of our trip, we did have a woman join us who was traveling alone. It's something she does often. Not only does it really not appeal to me because of the safety factor, I just enjoy so much experiencing everything with people I care about. And afterwards we can still remember together the times we had -- and the interesting and beautiful joys along the way. Reliving the trip once in a while via conversation just adds to the wonderful experience.

I'm a big animal lover who grew up in the country. I've camped extensively. Being in Africa was very much like being snapped up from a tent in a campground in the Cascades and plopped down into a tent on the other side of the earth -- definite changes in climate, view, animals, people, language, culture, but still people just making their way in the world, still dirt, trees, insects, animals, vegetation; and friendliness.

We had wonderful guides -- except for one gentleman who guided us through much of Tanzania, through the Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge and into the Serengeti. He was pleasant, helpful, extremely knowledgeable, but his driving nearly drove me to the edge. Literally. He was the one who, two days in a row, took us into the crater where the drop in is about 2000 feet. It's like standing on the edge of an ocean trying to see the marine life, then 30 minutes later, being down at the bottom of it. The cliffs are crazy, the road is a single dirt lane, rocky beyond belief, and traction isn't always the best. Suffice it to say, he drove too fast for me! It probably didn't help matters that I have a real fear of heights... ;-)

Perhaps a discussion of Africa for the next few posts would be in order...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer! And good friends...

I wonder sometimes how people manage to keep their blogs updated -- or at least, since I'm such a particular speller/grammarian, whatever, how do you update without spending time rewriting? Actually, I've done little of that, but I always want to. It's part of my regular work ethic and it's hard to just throw out what I'm thinking without cleaning it up to make me look more intelligent. ;-)

Ah, well, that's not the meaning of it all, and I know that. So I'll plug along for a while and see how well it goes.

Summer! And elementary school is done. It was emotional, mostly for me. My daughter is excited -- she doesn't really like school and is always anxious for summer. Time to spend each day doing something fun, with friends at her daycare, going to the park, the pool, etc. I want to go back! We never had these opportunities when I was a child, and I want them now. Ha! We did, though, get to wander the extended neighborhood, looking for people to play with, catching frogs down at the swamp, riding our bikes on the trails, sometimes even the neighbor's minibike. We didn't have what our kids have, but we had something different. In some cases better, in others not. :-)

The extra job responsibilities I spoke of earlier have definitely arrived. It's going to be a stretch, but no more of a stretch than for the others in our office. With some layoffs already and possibly more pending, it's not looking good. I can only hope that by taking on the extra work I've managed to avoid the hammer. Certainly can't afford to lose my medical insurance, with my husband's condition and all. We could not even begin to afford his medications without it. So I'll plug on and do the best I can, though there's too much work for even two people! Such is life, and such is life for many more people now. We can't complain, we could be the ones trying to make it on unemployment. Or worse.

Whew! Tomorrow I'm off for a day and a half or so of a little fun with my friends. Headed out of town, I have to be back to work the middle of Monday, so I'm going to cram in some laughter and smiles while I can get them. If that's what I'm looking for, this is certainly the group to get them with! Most of the group have been together 15-20 years, so everyone's really comfortable and we all enjoy each other tremendously. Thank goodness for good friends!

Here's to time off -- limited though it may be -- and good friends!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Having made a real effort to keep this blog universal (read that: untraceable), it seems to get more difficult as I go along. I want to talk about my life, the ups, downs, distractions, goals, but in order to feel like I can express all that, I'm going to have to let my guard down. :-)

Things are definitely on an upswing! Work is still as frenetic (possibly more layoffs, meaning more work for those of us left), additonal responsibility coming down the line in a couple more weeks, lots to learn, but though I know I can do it, I'm pretty anxious about it. There will be negativity from some corners of the office, but I'm going to choose to disregard (read that: ignore!) those and concentrate on the tasks at hand.

My mom is getting worse -- even my brother has made mention of the problems she's experiencing -- and I need to get really serious about searching for an assisted living arrangement. I've already started a list and contacted those, but it's time to make actual visits to see where is the best place for her. She needs to be comfortable, happy, but also close enough to all of us that we can visit many times during the week. That's a tall order! I'm sure we'll find something that will work, I just hope it's a really great fit.

School is winding down for my daughter, she's about to complete her elementary school years. As monumental as it is for her, it's even more so for me. This will end 22 years at that school for me -- I know, it's true, I spaced my children out a bit! Elementary schools are great learning grounds for parents and this could definitely be said for me. So much of what has gone on there has helped me to develop into the person I am today. I've learned also from each of the teachers who have taught my children! Sometimes learning positive lessons, sometimes a little negative, but always learning! These people have shaped my children and our lives together and now apart, I'm sure they don't give themselves this much credit. Everyone plays a role in our lives, some more than others, and it's those who fit into the "more" who we'll remember most of all. If I could bring them all together, it would be a great party! :-)

Referencing a last post of mine, I am utterly convinced that the weekly dose of vitamin D that my doctor prescribed has changed my mood, cleared up my eczema, and made me a much, much happier person. It's interesting that while in the middle of a depressed time, it's very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel or to realize what is really happening. I've spent time with a sibling who has had ongoing issues with mental stability, first called manic depression, now diagnosed as being bipolar, all of which has been treated with various different medications and/or elements. I have known that their condition has been a result of a chemical imbalance, but when it comes to concerns about my health, I totally didn't connect the depression with anything of the same sort for me.

I need to get more serious about my diet! And my exercise plan! Just the (relatively) small addition of a vitamin has made such a difference, think what other changes could make happen. I missed exercising today, but it's the first time in five days I've missed, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. Tomorrow is another day and I plan to fit in a decent walk (3 miles at least) and continue the road to health.

Closing for today, I'm going to try to shorten up my posts but make them more often. When I read other blogs, it's alot easier to keep up with that way! Thanks for your patience as I work through how to do this! Make tomorrow a great day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interesting how things relate...

Just read the comment from my last blog post. It's a funny world when you think about it. Just today at work during lunch I took part in a free yoga session, and what's the possibility that in reading the comment tonight, you've suggested yoga! Perhaps I'll have to seriously pursue the yoga thing, it almost seems kharma-like now. I did enjoy it -- it helps to break up the day and remember that life isn't about work. Work is just how you maintain your lifestyle. It's great to enjoy what you do, but it isn't always the most important defining factor in your life. And, secondly, I woke up some muscles today that I don't think have been used in quite some time. How is it that we have this body with all of its resources (how many muscles do we have?) but we can go through life and only use a small percentage? Amazing.

With everybody mended on this end, and the sun making a showing recently, with some success at work, great discussion with my sibling, the world is seeming somehow brighter today. Almost as though I've turned a corner and the lightbulbs here are brighter and warmer. Let's hope this isn't quick in passing! My doctor recently prescribed megadoses of Vitamin D weekly, it seems I'm deficient, and I wonder if this has anything to do with it. My mom has always maintained that she has SAD (Sun Affective Disorder?) -- it's not sun, I don't think, but basically it has to do with limited exposure to it and how that affects your mood. I've believed her, but never really thought that it had anything to do with me.

After being on extra vitamins for a week now, if this isn't what's brightening my mood, then it's a coincidence. Nevertheless, I'm supposed to continue taking this and we'll see how it goes. I used to be described as a "perky" person -- sometimes I still am! -- and I never thought I'd want to go back to that. Always thought that "perky" denoted some kind of lack of intelligence while being overtly happy, but maybe the happy part is worth the label. :-) I have also recently sought counseling, recognizing my mood has not been perky for a while, and perhaps that has had some effect also. It's a wonderful thing to have someone who listens to you and affirms what you're feeling, even if you're just being self-indulgent. Which I don't think I am, but maybe I am.

Today's post seems like a mishmash of nothing, but also everything. Is it any wonder I'm awake at 3 in the morning? My mind isn't following a train of thought, but many trains. I need to find a way to turn it off, I need some sleep before work! While it's helpful to blog, it's also unfair to the reader, I think, to just pour out whatever comes out. ;-)

As soon as I can, I intend to make sure one of my next blogs touches upon what's really the important thing (the elephant) that I keep dancing around. Maybe next time! It's not really that big of an elephant, I think it should make an appearance before it gets bigger!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Busy, but better...

Finally, through the illness! But very, very busy at work. So many people out for spring break, not to mention in my immediate area two people out for surgeries, those of us left have to cover for other departments. With the layoffs, cutbacks, we're already short-staffed, so have too much to do anyway. I'm thinking of taking a vacation! After everyone gets back and things get kind of back to normal, I may take a week off. It's time for someone to cover for me! :-)

Great discussion this week about the differences in workstyles, i.e. am I a workhorse or a racehorse? And is this a personal choice or something I feel forced into? Obviously, the hardest thing is to learn to say no. Especially when it's made extremely plain that those who do, will keep their jobs. Oh, the woes at work right now. And I know I'm just lucky to still be employed! It's hard to complain, but it's also just wrong that those in upper management feel they can say these things and that's okay. Emotional blackmail.

But we all still keep moving on. And for the better good...

Monday, April 6, 2009

One more day...

A sick child. Who could think of anything more sad? Okay, I know, this is just one of those unproductive influenza bugs that goes around every year and she'll be fine, but it's never like that. You just worry about them so. The paleness of the face, the constant battle to keep the fever from making them lose their stomach, the look on their face of trust that you will make them all better. She's of an age now where it's almost possible to reason with her about it. Though I have to admit that when I'm sick, the last thing that I am is reasonable. She gets sick one evening, and the tough part seems to have lasted about 2-1/2 days, and now it's just the icky runny nose, coughing, etc. that will hang on for a while. Hopefully we seem to be past the bad fever. Though since I'm not sure, I will be sleeping with her again. What could be the harm in that? :-) I know she wants to have me near, someone to rely on, but really, who needs to be near more? Yes, it's probably me. I would get no good sleep in a different room, I want to be able to touch her brow and feel the coolness, it's reassuring. School tomorrow? Maybe. She's been without a fever, if this holds, for 24 hours already. It will be many more by tomorrow. We'll see. The recovery portion of sickness may require me to stay home and play animalopoly one more time. What's the harm in that?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taking care...

Over the course of the last 10 years or so -- is it really that long? -- since my husband's first injury and now, just two years or so since his actual diagnosis with RSD, I've done a really good job of keeping it all together. Or at least that's what I've thought.

Friends will say things like: I can't believe how well you cope, or, He's so lucky to have you. While really I can't get past the part where it's his life that's hard. My life is great, I have my health, I can go to work every day, I can get out of bed, I can go to the store and drive my car. I've really gotten almost tired of the feeling that people are worried about me when, let's be serious, if there's anything at all wrong with me it would probably just be the guilt. You know, the part of you that feels bad when you leave the house, the part that hurts when you are able to hike the hill and he's at home just waiting for you to come back.

Is it really possible to guilt yourself into physical illness? Sometimes I do think so. If for no other reason than the horrible sleeplessness that's really taken over my night-time. I'm not sure why I can't sleep, I just know that it's difficult. Oh, sure, as soon as I lay down I fall quickly, but that's a result of sleep deprivation. I am so exhausted, it's not unusual for me to fall asleep before even the 8 o'clock shows are over. Then I'll wake up somewhere before midnight and, boom, that was it. Now I'm awake. I'll play around on the computer, maybe sew, lay down off and on, but really no success. By about 5 in the morning I'm starting to get really tired, and then I may be able to get in an hour of sleep, but when I get in the shower I just know that I'm going to be struggling through my day at work.

History tells me that this sleeplessness is a symptom, and yes, I know that it is. I probably even know what it's a symptom of. And for this reason I have finally sought some help. So today was my second session with a counselor, someone my general practitioner recommended. It is amazing how hard it is for me to talk about myself and even how guilty I feel going to this person. I haven't confessed this act to my husband yet, and I don't know that I will. He feels bad enough as it is, he shouldn't have to worry about me. I'm not clear how long I will see this person, how long it might take for me to wake up and figure out how to get back on an even slope (though isn't the definition of a slope a slant?). How am I supposed to help him when I'm sliding downward myself? And his energies really would be best spent taking care of himself and certainly not worrying about me.

So I've begun to make sure I'm "taking care" of myself and today the assignment given to me was to think a few times during each day about what it is that I'm feeling. Really, truly ask myself: How am I feeling right now? And then I'm supposed to write down my responses and keep track until my next visit. Well, this is enlightening. I didn't even get halfway down the road when I realized that most times my answer will probably be "mournful." Even the word saddens me, more than I already am.

I guess I'm mourning the loss of so many things that it's been hiding from me that this is what I'm feeling. The loss of our bright future together, the loss of a love life, the loss of having someone take care of me occasionally, the loss of innocence at the world (there are bad things that happen and it's been proven now), the loss of who I was before. And those are just the first ones that come to mind when I think of me. I certainly have a whole other couple of lists related to my husband and my children.

Oh, woe is me, I can't believe I went from the perkiest girl in class to this! But this is why I've started seeing this person. I believe I can get back to that perky girl (oh, yeah, I guess I'm no longer a "girl" -- age has a tendency to take away that moniker!).

So it only took me to my third blog post to get to the real truth of why I've started blogging. I need to journal, but I hate to write by hand. Putting my thoughts out in a blog is a bit risky, as who knows what others will think, if anyone will really read this, but it is an opportunity to get down somewhere -- really, of course, out of me -- what's going on and how it makes me feel. Cleansing really.

I promise to not dwell forever on the sad. Please check back as things get better, as I know they will. Then I will spend more time talking about my husband's illness, how it came about, what the diagnosis is, and what it means for him. Because, after all, I do believe that this is the best use of my space. I have been so enriched reading the blogs of other RSD sufferers and their spouses, I can only hope to achieve maybe half of what they have for me. It's just great to know we're not alone.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Half a century...

It's the morning of my husband's 50th birthday. He and I see birthdays much differently -- he's not excited to be here, while when I hit my 50th I was actually glad. It's not a popular viewpoint, but long ago while searching for a birthday card for my mom I ran across a saying that has stuck with me, and it definitely changed my outlook on birthdays. The card went something like: "You're having another birthday? Guess that's better than the alternative."
Seriously, what's the big deal? When asked, I always tell people how old I am. I am fifty. I want to be able to say I have lived fifty years and I am proud of it. I have done a lot in my life, things just get added to the list without me really paying attention, but at the end of the day when I look back, I really am grateful to have had the opportunity for each and every piece. There are many who have gone on before us who maybe didn't make it to fifty. Perhaps thirty was their last year. Can I imagine not having had the last twenty years? What a sad thought.
I am looking forward to the next ten years, I believe I've come to a point where I will now make the things happen I've always wanted to do. Up until now I really have focused on making my children's lives better -- that is, after all, my responsibility as their parent. But as each one of them has left the house and moved on to become responsible adults, I have been given a little more freedom. I will always be a part of their lives -- maybe more than they'd like. :-) But there are days that go by when I don't hear from them and, though I find it hard to not always call, I realize that they have lives, too, and that it's good to let go a little bit.
Don't get me wrong, I have five kids to pick from and so I can let up to five days go by without talking to each, but still have talked to one of them. I believe I've stacked the deck. I've made the best of this life. I have wonderful kids who are all very giving, responsible, loving adults, and they always make time to talk to me when I call, and I just need to give them the space to have their lives.
Happy birthday to everyone having a birthday today -- it's a great thing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A new day...

Having always been told to journal to relieve stress, tension, as a way to ease these in life, setting up this blog is going to be my way to do it! I hate to write by hand, I've tried many times, but typing is such an easy thing and hopefully it will make it easy to maintain.

I've visited other blogs and wonder at the people behind them. I know that reading what they go through and how their lives adjust and morph over time helps me in my own life. Knowing that I have a number of topics to talk about, some of which could help others also, has prompted me to begin a blog of my own.

As with everyone, I will probably write about the everyday, the usual, the mundane, but I also plan to share information about what it's like to be in my fifties, still have a child at home (she's going to be here for at least 7 more years!), be concerned about the status and well-being of my last remaining parent (in her 80's, working through more breast cancer) as well as the status of my husband (in his 50's, disabled as the result of a medical condition brought on by a brutal animal attack).

Not one to dwell on the negative, I may also find time to talk about volunteerism, gardening, sewing, reading, just to name a few of my hobbies.

Hopefully someone out there finds these entries helpful, just knowing they're not alone, that we're all dealing with different issues and that in some strange, untelling way, each and every one of us has a life that is normal in its own right.