Sunday, May 4, 2014

On Being “of use”.

I just finished reading John Irving’s  The Cider House Rules. In the book, one of the main characters, Wilbur Larch, speaks about being “of use”.  It got me to thinking if, or how, I am of use.  Unemployed with a brain tumor, I  currently do not feel of use. I’m not sure I was of use, before I was diagnosed. I am trying to find new ways to be of use, specifically being a good wife, daughter, mother and friend.

I fail sometimes on the mother front, I can’t and shouldn’t drive, so I can’t pick my son up after school, take him to doctor appointments, and I sleep a lot, especially when I am on chemotherapy.

I fail on other fronts for the same reasons, I can’t help a friend, or visit my lonely father, without someone driving me. And it is to my husband’s credit, that he accepts a wife with a disability, though I don’t think I can ever ask him to be more of a caregiver than he already is, and I am not the person he married.

Maybe I felt of use when I was working. I worked long hours, and eagerly helped co-workers. Even if I can’t boast about the quality of my work back then, I had a strong work ethic.

When one is of use, one is not always aware of being of use. It is always good to strive to be useful.

As for me, I do the best I can.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dad’s Greatest Hits!

As my dad’s health is declining, I’m remembering what a funny/strange man he was. He would say and do things, that are now the stuff of family legend.

For example,  I had a friend over for a sleepover. We were all eating breakfast when my dad started humming the tune to “My Favorite Things”.  He started softly, then got progressively louder.  I was used to goofiness like this, but my friend was not.

She never came over again.

He had nicknames for my sister’s boyfriends.  TJ became RV,  Bob became DooBob, and so on.

I was not immune, though I had no boyfriends until college. A male friend of mine from Junior High, who would buy me snow cones, was dubbed, “Snow Cone Fellah”. Another friend  became known as a “young Richard Nixon”.

When dad found out I was going to a friend’s apartment community to swim, I wore a bikini and my mom’s cover up. This prompted dad to admonish, “ Don’t let him play with your ass.”

My jaw dropped.

He was fumbling for a utensil in the kitchen, but said utensil got stuck in the drawer, and this immediately became my fault. “You should go to dishwasher unloading school!” he barked.  WTF!?

My cousin remembers a time dad asked me to get something, and I hesitated, making my dad yell, “Dammit Eden, don’t pull a Scotty on me!” I knew what he meant. He was comparing me to the Scotty the can’t do it engineer from Star Trek. My cousin just thought he was overreacting, which is also true.

These are all incidents we laugh about now, though I don’t think we did at the time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

October, a hard month

I am 46 years old, but I still feel Iike a kid sometimes. Lately I've been seeing people I knew as kids, die and/or be near death. I think, how can this be? And why isn't it me? Mid month, my friend and classmate, Paula Jones Stover, passed away from bile duct cancer. This as she was achieving some of her happiest moments. She met a man who loved her, and was by her side through her battle with cancer. Although she got to go some of the places she wanted, before she  died, she was very weak and uncomfortable at the end, so much so she couldn't communicate.

Meanwhile, for the last year, another classmate, Rich Basick, has been in and out of hospitals since receiving a bone marrow transplant to keep his leukemia at bay. His biggest enemy right now is his his diabetes. He has sustained injuries to his toes that have become gangrenous. His feet look like someone burned him, yet pain management has  been difficult. He gets loopy, and doesn't breathe prolerly. So far, surgeons have amputated half of   Rich's right foot, and may need to take more.

I am lucky, because my cancer has not caused me pain, just insanity,

Photos:  above, Rich and his family at our house this summer, below that one, Rich as a teen. At the bottom of this post, Paula and her husband John.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Things are much better.

Almost two months ago I fell down during a one-mile walk, and it prompted concern that my tumor was growing again, as it is near my motor strip. An MRI ruled out growth (for the moment), an ENT looked in my ears, and didn't think my falling was the result of an inner ear disturbance.

Since the episode, a physical therapist has worked with me to get back my strength and confidence. At the start of our sessions, I needed trekking poles to go on walks.

Today I walked without them.

Despite this progress, I still need to build up enough strength to pick myself up from a falling position, should the need arise, but my physical therapist has confidence that I can meet that goal.

In more positive news, my dad seems to be adjusting to memory care, though the day he moved brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the family.

I should make clear that my mom and dad live in the same retirement center, just in different parts, so she can go to his room to visit, or she can bring him over to her pace, so dad can see their dog, and watch movies with. Recently, he has even resumed swimming laps! 

Granted, he sometimes thinks he's the coach of the Timbers, or a paid employee of the retirement center, but I'm happy about the positive changes I'm seeing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Falling down

I love walking. On a good day, I can enjoy fresh air, sun, and maybe fitness.

The Friday before the Fourth of July was not one of those days.  I fell twice during my one-mile-plus walk.  What's worse is that I couldn't get up!

About a block from my house, came the first fall. I attempted to get off the sidewalk to dodge a prickly bush, and went boom. A Good Samaritan helped me up. I continued my trek home, and didn't feel right. The temperature was hot, somewhere between 85 and 90 degrees; thus, I became tired, and unintentionally dragged my feet.

I finally reach my steep driveway, and loose my footing again, causing me to careen into the garage door. I land on my hands and knees, and bloody my left one. The concrete is too hot, and my knee is too banged up to crawl on it, so I call my son, who is in the house.

Six times I try and he doesn't pick up. Apparently, the phones aren't charged downstairs. Eventually, I make the decision to call my mom, as she lives relatively close by. When she reaches me, she can't help me up, as she has a bad back, so my son, Austin, is brought out to help her. They succeed, and I get a water bottle and l call my primary care physician, whose assistant asks me a few questions. He thinks I just got dehydrated. The incident is still under investigation. It could be tumor related, as the thing is near my motor strip.

Needless to say, I hope it isn't, and I can get back to enjoying the benefits of walking.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Moving day

I've written in this blog about my dad's dementia. About a year ago, mom and dad moved to a retirement community so dad could get extra care when the time came.

That time came today. He moved from independent living with my mom to a room by himself, where a nurse will bathe him, help him dress, and dispense his medication, instead of my

No one rejoiced at this event, and, in fact, dad shed tears. For now, he seems to feel abandoned, worried he won't see his family again.

But I'm happy to report that mom will still live at the facility, visit and share meals with them, but they won't share a room.

As for me, I can walk there to see him, and my sister can take a short drive to see him.

The move just happened. Next comes adjusting to the new normal.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Moving day approaches

Monday April 29, 2013, my dad moves to the memory care wing of the retirement village where he lives with my mom. It will be a very bittersweet day. He will not know he's moving until the actual moving day. That's how administrators wanted to handle it. As I wrote in a recent post, he hallucinates, needs help grooming, and sometimes tries to leave the building. My mom has been his caregiver for almost their entire marriage, but she physically can't do it anymore. It's like taking care of a 75-year-old toddler, so when an opportunity arose to move my dad, she took it. As one can imagine, she's experiencing a myriad of emotions about separating from her husband.

He will go to a relatively spacious room with a private bath. My mom secured a spot on the waiting list for a single bedroom unit for residents who can still live independently. She can still have meals with my dad and visit him, as can my sister and I.

All hands will be in hand for this transition. I expect to post more about this. This is another one of those things I wish I could changes.

If wishes were dollars, I'd be in the black.