Wednesday, September 30, 2015

 September 30, 2015

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of a pack rat. I don’t know why throwing anything away is so hard for me, but there it is. Every once in a while, I need help. This past week end, I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and since it was her weekend off work, asked my daughter to please come and clean/clear out my office.

She decided she’d do the deed on Sunday. There was a reason for that. She knew I had to go into the city to the nursing office. Then my beloved and I planned to have lunch out before we went grocery shopping. Those chores on the agenda guaranteed that we would be gone while she got a good start on the job.

Two days before the appointed day, when she was here, I started to tell her about how I wanted a few things to be arranged...and she told me to hush. “You’ve asked for my help. Now you must let go and let me help.” My response to that—aside from calling her a cheeky wench—was to wait until she left. Then I sorted through what was in my immediate work area, and took care of everything in that small space. I could live with her arranging the bookshelves, and completely replacing the one small bookshelf that I used for sundry items (our unopened boxes of coffee pods for the Keurig and my entire liquor supply—a small collection of bottles, most of which are several years old).

I wasn’t the only one being ordered about. Our daughter told my husband he must put together the unopened wooden shelf kit so that she could install it in place of the somewhat bowing one that had been there for a couple of years and that she intended to replace.

I let my daughter see that I was somewhat concerned when she arrived Sunday morning, and the first thing she did was to open the contractor-sized garbage bag she brought with her and grin like a maniac. I was going to ask her to use the recycling bin when possible, but I knew what that request would net me. She’d do what she liked, regardless. I wasn’t really worried that she would throw out anything important. She has a pretty good sense of what I want/need and what I don’t.

My daughter and I pretty much see eye to eye on most things. There is, however, one area in which we do not agree, and I would say the fact this is so, was inevitable.

I know my daughter believes that she and I are making “the transition”. Those of you who are in your thirties or forties with elderly parents know what I’m talking about. There comes a point, if you’re fortunate enough to have your parents still alive as you move into your middle years, when you begin to assume some responsibility for them. As they age and their faculties begin to wane, you begin to do little things to help them. You check on them and see to it that they’re well. Maybe you make sure of their medical appointment schedule, get them there, or make sure their medications are up to date. You check the fridge to see that they have the food necessary to eat healthy meals.

And as you perform these services it almost seems as if you become the parent to your parent who’s now like your child. That’s what I call the transition.

That’s where my daughter’s mind set is heading and all I can say to that is a good, old-fashioned Southern “bless her heart”.

Yes, I’m 61. Do I have trouble walking? Oh, you bet I do. Every step is a challenge especially right now, as I begin to work at regaining my stamina after three weeks of being less mobile than usual because of my surgery. But do my physical limitations translate into metal or intellectual feebleness?

Hell, no.

My daughter does have a good heart. She works as a nurse’s aide. She gives to her clients in the community—most of them elderly—and often to a degree that is above and beyond expectations. There have been a few in the local nursing home who don’t have family visiting them, and she makes sure they have a gift at Christmas—and yes, it comes out of her own pocket.

I am sure that when the time eventually comes for me to have someone “supervise” me, she’ll do a really good job. But that day is far from now.

In the meantime, I am happy to have her work for a day cleaning, clearing, and feeling superior as long as at the end of the day, things are easier for me to manage.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23, 2015

It’s the first day of autumn. That seems later this year, as for some reason, my mind thinks the change of season day is always the twenty-first of the month. That’s because when my brain finally matured, whatever was “normal” at that time—be it the price of a loaf of bread, the proper way to wear jeans, i.e., cinched at the waist and not mid-way down the butt crack, or the day the season changed—became normal for me, forever.

We get set in our ways, but maybe we should take a lesson from Mother Nature. She doesn’t get set in her ways at all. She has no problem having hissy fit after hissy fit, and does whatever the hell she wants. I wish someone would give that lady a tranquilizer so she could mellow out.

My beloved and I always note the day when we think the season changed from summer to autumn, and it’s usually a week or more in advance of the actual, official, first day of fall. Summer seems to have a sky that is a rich, vibrant blue, a blue with depth to it. Then comes a day, usually lately near the end of August, when we notice the sky isn’t that rich blue anymore. The shade seems a bit lighter—and even if the sun burns hot on that day there’s a quality to the air and combined, those two signals, to us, scream “autumn”.

And usually within a couple of days of that, we see the first tiny sign in the leaves on some of the trees we pass as we drive—a few tiny little traitors who, tired of life, have let it go and allowed the yellow or red to infiltrate their tiny leafy bodies.

We have a walnut tree that stands at the corner of our porch. This tree is the last in the area to gain its leaves, and the first to lose them. As soon as the walnuts are formed—these nuts are only edible to the squirrels—then the tree has fulfilled its annual purpose, and its leaves turn and begin to drop. It is generally bare by the time the neighbors’ maple trees have turned color. There is constant leaf raking to be done here from mid September to late October.

This constant, seasonal reality for us is going to prove a boon this year for our youngest grandson. He’s 13 now, and eager to earn money. We’ve hired him to be our lawn boy, and we’re hoping he will want to work next year, too, cutting grass. He already cuts the small yard at his own home, with an old fashioned push mower. But he’ll be 14 in January, old enough to learn how to use our electric mower.

This has been a fast year for me, mostly because I tried to focus on not thinking about my health. We only took the one excursion in the summer, and that was to Pennsylvania. And as I’d already had my surgery booked by then, the time flew while my mind was otherwise occupied.

And while I am having, for the time being, to have my one incision re-bandaged every day—necessitating a trip into the city to see the nurse—I already feel better than I have in a long time. I’m hoping that by the time Christmas rolls around, these issues will be firmly in the past.

Bumps in the road are always unexpected, and quite often unpleasant. But they happen to everyone, and they’re the reason for my favorite axiom.

Challenging times don’t come to stay—they come to pass.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September 16, 2015

I want to thank everyone who took the time to send me best wishes over the last two weeks. I was completely overwhelmed by so many prayers on my behalf. Thank you all very much.

As you know, I was scheduled for the removal of my gallbladder on Friday, September 4th. I was very hopeful that I would receive the laparoscopic procedure and not what they call the “full surgical” one.

I was very fortunate, because that is exactly what happened. It was 9:45am when I was wheeled into the operating room, and it was approaching 1 pm when I was wheeled out to the car.

My beloved had previously booked the week after my surgery as his September “staycation”. I know that the week he ended up with was not the one he’d hoped for. He had planned to just be home but had thought we might take a day trip or two. That of course didn’t happen. He managed to do a lot of reading, and he “binged watched” a couple of historical television dramas. He and his daughter attended a local annual village-wide yard sale. He stayed up late and slept in late—in other words, he rested. That’s what a staycation is for.

I had shopped before my surgery, loading up on various frozen entrees for the duration, as David doesn’t like to cook at all. Unfortunately the first few days the temperatures were way too high to have the oven on. So one night we had one of the entrees done in the microwave, and then we made do with sandwiches. And since I didn’t have much of an appetite that was fine by me.

Although I was lucky to end up receiving the laparoscopic procedure, this entire adventure has not been smooth sailing. One thing that went exactly as hoped, I received my edit just a few days after my surgery. I was able to get the work done, spending an hour and a half at a time behind the keyboard.

I was determined to meet my professional obligations—but I was also determined to do exactly what I was told to do in order to heal. I spent most of my time either in my lounger or in my bed. I rested. I napped. On day 6 post-op, my main incision site, the one called the umbilical site, hurt more than the day before, not less. I was afraid it might be infected—but no one else seemed to think so. Over the weekend, of course, it became clear that it was infected. I got antibiotics, and was told to contact my surgeon on Monday, which I did.

I won’t go into the gory details. Suffice it to say I now understand about having an incision reopened, drained, and then packed. I’ve also added a trip into the city next door to my agenda every day for the next while, at least, to a nursing office where my bandage is changed daily.

Though I have work I need to do, I am taking a few more days to rest. Monday night, after seeing the surgeon, was the first decent sleep I’d had since the Thursday before.

 I realize that many people deal with far worse things than what I am going through, and I really try not to think about it too much. It’s only temporary, after all. In a month or two these last couple of weeks will all be just a memory.

 I’ve even decided there’s value to still not having much of an appetite. Maybe when I go for my regular check up in November, I’ll have lost another 10 pounds.

It’ll be a hard-won loss, but I’ll take it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 September 2, 2015

September has arrived! In the Ashbury household this means that summer is over. After this next weekend, at least in these parts, the kids return to school. My beloved told me the other day that in his mind, this was always the “New Year” to him. In fact, he declared, it will likely always be so.

We no longer have kids in the house returning to the halls of academia, of course. That’s been in the past for more years now than it ever was our reality—and we don’t even want to mention how many years it’s been since my husband went back to school. Back to school time was always a mixed blessing—inward cheers that they were finally not going to be home getting into mischief all day long; and inward winces at the expense of it all.

I have to admit, though, that today’s parent is expected to put out a lot more money than we ever had to do. “School supplies” used only to consist of back packs, paper, binders, and pens and pencils. I was in our local Walmart a few days ago and saw families shopping—with long lists supplied to them by the Board of Education.

We had to pay for babysitting during the summer months over the course of a few years—there were no day-camps where we lived out in the country. A couple of years I was out of work during the summer, which was good for the pocketbook but hard on the nerves. I loved my children, but I’m only human. By the time September 1st came around, you could likely find me at the school, outside, caressing the bricks fondly, mumbling “soon, soon.”

There are many differences between the school experience here, and what a lot of y’all know. Up here, while there are High School sports, they aren’t community-supported the way they are down there in the United States. I went to one football game when my oldest son, Christopher, was on the team. Otherwise and for the most part, the games were held in the middle of the school day, and I often had to work. The stands tended to be filled by the student body of whichever school was playing host, with but a very small smattering of parents in attendance.

September has always been my beloved’s preferred vacation time. There was no coincidence to the reality that he planned to be off work a week or two when the kids weren’t around during the day. When the kids were school-aged, all of our vacations were stay-cations. Yes, it’s true! We’ve always been edgily avant garde.

And though we have traveled some this year, next week finds my husband home from work, planning to do nothing more than read, and rest...and as it turns out, play nurse maid to me.

This coming Friday brings with it a resolution to a situation I’ve been dealing with for the last several years. In the beginning we didn’t know what was causing my ‘plumbing’ problems. But a year and a half ago, when I had the first painful episode, we had a clue.

Tests revealed that I have several gallstones. The surgeon was leery to remove my gallbladder until the other problem was resolved. Finally, a gastroenterologist figured out the cause of the situation, and in fact, it was related to my gallbladder. So finally, in two days time, it comes out.

I’m really hoping for the laparoscopic procedure, and that is what they intend to do. But I was cautioned that sometimes, a more invasive surgery is required. If I end up having the former, I will be home the same day and likely out of it for the weekend. And while I plan to rest, for the most part, for as long as the doctor recommends, I am expecting an edit and fully intend to complete it when it arrives. But that will likely be the extent of my “working” for the first week post-op, at any rate.

If I end up having the full surgery, I will be in hospital for a few days; but I have a lap top and the hospital bed will take the place of my wonderful electric recliner, so the edit will still be done.

Looking back, I believe there have only been a handful of Wednesdays when I haven’t posted my essay. Next week will be another one.

But I look forward to getting back into the rhythm of this life I so love. God willing, I’ll be back with a new Wednesday’s Words on September 16th.