Thursday, April 28, 2016

In Which I Fall Off a Ladder and Get Laryngitis

This is me.

I fell off a ladder on December 23rd while putting Christmas lights on top of the armoire in my dining room. I didn't do anything ridiculous like standing on the step inscribed with the warning, "This is not a step." The tree was already up, and there were Christmas cookies in the oven, and I had a friend over---and so I was excited to  be finished with the lights, and I simply backed up to admire my handiwork. But I was still two steps off the ground. When I fell, I collided with a dining room chair which tipped over, and I planted my ribcage onto its edge, and the ladder planted itself on top of me.

The treatment for broken ribs is the same as the treatment for bruised ribs unless you can't breathe or are coughing up blood or you have a bone poking out (so says the Internet) so I didn't go to the ER. I did the things Dr. Internet said would help. Rest. OTC painkillers. I did a ton of OTC painkillers.  My ribs got better, but the hip I'd landed on (the left one) still hurt so I took more painkillers. And it was Christmas so I ate five dozen Christmas cookies and special desserts, and I was tired from not sleeping well because of the hip and rib pain so I drank a lot of coffee. A lot of coffee. And a lot of wine. So much wine. And after I did these amusing and entertaining things, I napped (on my right side, which is the side to lie on if you want to be good to your heart, but the left is the side that is good for your stomach.) And I didn't go to yoga and got fat.

All of this led to acid reflux (all the while my stomach felt fine) which irritated my vocal chords and  little growths formed and my voice got huskier and huskier. I couldn't sing. Wait. I could never sing. The only songs I can remember the tune to are Happy Birthday and Jingle Bells.

The irritated voice was irritating. But then my knees swelled to the size of grapefruits and I was as stiffer than I'd ever seen my mom. And my fingers were swollen and stiff too. The knees and fingers are improving, but the confluence of the many symptoms led me to go to the doctor. The swelling and the stiffness is still a mystery in progress, but I am now officially on my first prescription med. And the medication can deplete your body of calcium so now I have to take an OTC med for that. It's probably temporary. But there you have it. Don't fall off a ladder. Because one  thing leads to another.  The next thing you know, you'll be taking drugs and more drugs.

And meanwhile, I've now had a total of three bad dreams about my mom. Two in which I woke up crying for help because 1) she was a zombie trying to drag me off  2) a ghost controlling things in my house 3) spending all my money.

The therapist from my bereavement group says I'm going through a kind of post-caregiving collapse. But I'm really okay as long as I'm not having a nightmare, and I'm doing more yoga (with a billion modifications) and following the lifestyle changes for acid reflux as best I can. Don't Google all the yummy things you're not supposed to eat or drink. The thought of giving them up will give you nightmares.

Read this quote by Rumi instead: This day of sunshine will not walk to you; you must go to it. And that's my rough paraphrase because I couldn't find it on the Internet. But the yoga teacher read it to us today at the end of class.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Sunday Report

I may have reached my zenith as a caregiver when I created this--whenever that was.

There were many papers spread out on the kitchen island and on the bed in my mom's old room, and somehow, today,  most of these projects are nearing completion. The things that needed mailing have been mailed, other papers are stored for now in a file box until it seems reasonable to shred them. There is a box of treasures to keep, old photos to organize, and a few things to give away. Leaving this world with such a light load of material possessions is not something I would have predicted for my mom decades ago. I am most grateful. 

 Now, f I can get the U.S. Commemorative Gallery to stop sending their "valuable" collector sets of coins. I sent back their "Eisenhower and Kennedy Golden Dollars" and received a note from them that my mom had pre-paid for them. I may take on a battle with them just to see if I can get any of her hard-earned money back. What a bunch of hucksters. Can you even spend these damn things like regular money? How is it that with dozens of consumer complaints against them, we still let a company like this exist to prey upon the elderly?

I'm in the process of my own estate planning now. Letting my adult children know what is what and what is where. I'm now the family matriarch, I guess....And hoping that I will lighten my load of material goods substantially before I leave the planet. It's all just stuff. And it's stuff that our kids or friends will have to sort through when we leave. Then again, who doesn't like pretty things? I can't even walk by a piece of beach glass without pocketing it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thursday Beach Report

Today's green sea and blue sky

The ocean is all chop and churn today, and a cool wind is blowing sand into the neighboring streets,  once again threatening to obliterate the little parking lot and barricade the bathrooms behind a sand dune.

There's a paperwork version of this tumult in my kitchen. And as we say these days, I. Can't. Even. 
I mean it. I can't.

I spent last evening Googling "spiritual reasons for swollen knees" instead of moving one sheet of paper. The swollen knees began maybe two weeks ago. Swollen fingers too. Stiffness. A bad attitude. I tried everything. Arnica, essential oil, rest, movement, yoga, no yoga, T'ai Chi Chih, no T'ai Chi Chih, ice, heat. Sunday night I could not move my arms and spent the evening imitating a tyrannosaurus rex. The chiropractor said he was not the guy, and suggested blood tests ASAP. As of last night all terrible immune diseases have been ruled out. (Whew.) But the stiffness and the swelling persists, perhaps a bit better, but not markedly.

Last night a friend asked if I'd given myself a chance to grieve. Yes, I told her, not quite believing it. I remember making an effort to grieve Dan's death out of sight of my mom. I'd sit in my closet in front of his Dia de Los Muertos altar and sob--but it was hard to give into it completely with one ear open for what might be going on downstairs. And it felt like there was too much to do to sob for my mother--too much time in the public eye. Memorial, shuttle bus, airplane.

As I sat on the couch last night, I began to picture my knees filled with unshed tears. The Google fest yielded many interesting tidbits: Fear of being ambushed from behind, "cut off at the knees"; rigidity, trying to maintain control, losing control, trying to take charge of everything; pretending to be flexible, but not really being flexible. And there was something about the left knee (the worst one) being an anchor to the past. Visualize running water, one of the sites said. It's lack of humility, said another. Genuflect.

I walked in the surf, asking for all the stiffness to be washed away. There were very few people on the beach, but I saw two young women in shorts working out. They were doing that walking/squatting exercise. It looked like genuflecting to me. I watched them, putting myself into their shoes, hoping for some relief, but probably I'll have to do my own genuflecting and shed my own tears whether I want to or not.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review My Book! (please) and give some thought to reproductive rights....

Imagine a world where there is no such thing as birth control. No abortion either. Imagine a place where single mothers are shamed and baited. Imagine that the term single mother is replaced with the word slut. Imagine that you are the slut. You are pregnant. You are too dirty, too worthless, too much of an embarrassment to raise your baby. So you give him away.
Now imagine that this world is a real place. Because it was.
When I was a pregnant teenager in a small Catholic town in 1970, men were most decidedly in charge of women’s reproductive rights. The same issues are making headlines today.
I tell my story for a reason. Because it's happening right now.
If you haven't yet read my memoir and would like to, I'd appreciate a review. I currently have 30 Amazon reviews, but I've learned that there is increased visibility for books with 50 reviews or more. 

Now is a good time for increased visibility.

Here's the Amazon link: Birth Mother

Thank you. The book is a quick read in keeping with the publisher, SheBooks, novella length format. I hope you'll share this post. And I implore you to share it with anyone you know who has lost a child to adoption.

And here's the link to Center for Reproductive Rights in case you'd like to get caught up with the news.