Archive for November, 2013

Milepost 43

November 30, 2013

222px-Mile_Marker_43.svg

I am not sure what I am marking, or is it just a milepost in my life?  I don’t see it as an anniversary or a celebration or anything like that; it’s simply the month I was diagnosed with RA 43 years ago.  I don’t remember the particular date, though I know it was before Thanksgiving.

We had come back from Australia in September of 1970 and found jobs as well as a place to live in about a week or so.  I was working in a nice department store in San Mateo and our apartment was in Redwood City.  As I think back to that time, it almost is as if I had read it in a book or someone told me about it.  43 years is a long time ago and a lot has happened over the years.

I am still not sure what triggered RA – was it bouncing down the concrete stairs on my butt holding an upright vacuum cleaner?  Was it lifting up the wardrobe truck to check for water damage?  Or something else I haven’t associated as a contributing factor?  Then again, it could have been my body trying to throw off the stress of Australia once I was back in my home country.  I have often wondered through the years what happened, but is that relevant now?

Then I began to see myself as a victim, an innocent bystander sideswiped by RA.  But  I now know I am not a victim even though I have spent a lot of years with a victim mentality.  It’s the “Why me?” question.  Did I do something in another lifetime and this is payback?  If so, I hope I had one hell of a good time in that other life.  Or the “What did I do to deserve this?” question.

I’ve thought about it at different times and come up with other possibilities – a preparation for the next life; this is my soul contract; there is a reason and purpose for it; this is my purpose in life; I chose to experience it in this lifetime.  I am sure there are many possibilities; what I have learned after a bit was not the “Why?”, it is the “How?” that is important.

The “How?” is the how do I deal with it?  At the time, I didn’t know I had a choice; I could go get treatment and see what I could do to help myself, or dig a hole and bury myself and not do anything.  Looks as though not knowing I had a choice was a good thing.  I think of all those times I just wanted to curl up in a ball (or as much of a ball as I physically could) and bury myself in the covers.  Then the times when I felt good I was able to do things and have a good time.

When we moved to Connecticut, I became involved with the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  I started out in a support group, but found it was too “me” centered.  Yes, if I was having a difficult time, it was good to whinge and get it all out.  But I get depressed with constant whingeing, so when I was asked to be a Self Help instructor, I said yes in a shot.  Later I asked to become the Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I will admit both scared me a lot – I always found being up in front of people an agony.  What I learned from both of those was to be comfortable talking in front of people.  Now everything I do tends to be more personal – I can do technical but it’s not comfortable for me.  I put personal things, stories, humor as well as facts into what I do.  If time is limited, I will jettison my stories to be sure I present the important information.  I had a card with the things I needed to cover, so I made sure I followed that.  I will admit I never had a time limit, I just talked until I was finished.  Plus I always told them, any time you have a question, just let me know.

The biggest bonus was feeling I was finding something positive in RA – people would thank me for helping them, saying it made a difference to hear from someone who has it, sometimes it was helping them know and understand “it wasn’t all in their head”.   This from many older women, especially in the class.  There are all the times when I helped someone and I didn’t know it.  I often think each of helps a lot of other people without confirmation.

I loved to hear how wonderful I am, but I was also concerned.  I figured as long as I kept a balance of “feeling I was hot stuff up front” and “do I look stupid standing up here walking back and forth and waving my arms?”, then I would not get a swelled head.  Now there are people in my life who would tell me there is no danger of me getting a swelled head.  A subject for another time.

Ye Gods and Little Fishes!  I am at the end and I am so surprised.  I saw pictures in my mind as I was writing this, a bit of going down memory lane.  Interesting to think about it at this point and seeing it with a different perspective.

P.S.  You have no idea how long it took to find that photo of a mile marker 43.  I wasn’t about to let technology win this time!

A Little Rambling

November 24, 2013

I have been thinking of several ideas for this post – yet I can’t really remember any of them!  Sometimes I am compelled to write a post while other times something happened I just want to tell everyone about it.   What’s frustrating is to have something in mind and not have time to write it at the moment.  Then when I finally have time, it seems either bland or I can’t quite remember what was so compelling.  This gave me a chuckle so I will add this and see where things go:

funny-mere-cat-picture1

Looks as if this is one of those posts that start here and I have no idea where it will go.  When I think about the past week, I remember how down I felt last Friday after visiting Mom.  Not sure how much came from seeing her slowly going downhill, how much I was just tired or the frustration of feeling things are more work than usual.

I had a very good week and accomplished a lot of things – some unexpected and welcome energy for a change.  I began to slow down around Thursday – not my choice – and by Friday I was not so energetic.  Anyway, I just felt down after seeing Mom and it was like that for 3 or 4 days.  I felt like running away by myself for a bit and let someone else take over; but there isn’t anyone else.    I finally caught myself feeling low and a little sorry for myself – maybe I needed a good whinge – and decided, I don’t like this, it is uncomfortable.   I asked the Universe to help me with an attitude overhaul – an adjustment wouldn’t quite be up to the task.

When I do that, sometimes I notice a difference fairly quickly, other times it takes a couple of days.  This was days, not hours.  I had a massage Tuesday and it felt good – it’s been bout 3 weeks since the last.  Tomorrow is my last one with Debye because she is moving to around carlsbad in California – not the most convenient commute.  I am going to miss her so much, especially as a friend and in some ways a mentor as well a massage therapist.  However, I know her friend Michelle so I will check her out because she does things similar to Debye.

I am pleased the week ended a lot better than it started.  I saw Mom this last week and she was fairly aware.  I brought a D.E. Stevenson book to read, but couldn’t find it on Friday.  I was going to take my iPad but couldn’t open it – I had forgotten my passcode.  I found it and when I go Tuesday, I will play some music for her.

When in doubt, talk about the weather.  We have had some gorgeous crisp, clear Fall days – nippy enough for frost.  I was amazed last week to see the sun shining and the Olympics came out from behind the clouds with snow covered peaks.  The other morning I was up early enough to see them look like strawberry sno-cones – all pink in the sunrise.  The Sound was a deep blue – so gorgeous but I was glad to have my car heater warm me up.  As long as I am in the sun, it is a bit warm and nice; in the shade it’s cold and windy.

I need to take a break and have a shower – we aren’t going out today even though it is sunny.  While Eddie vacuumed, I was printing pictures for his 787 exhibit and fixing the mistakes on his info sheet I typed the other day.  That along with this post.  Back in a bit.

BACK Again!

Not that it made a whole lot of difference; except I not only had a shower and got dressed, I also cleaned the bathroom.  So it has taken me a while to come back.  Too bad no fresh ideas, it happens sometimes.  I was hoping this one would start at one point and have an interesting journey to the end.  Can’t win them all.

Indecision Is The Pits!

November 17, 2013

Last month was a year since Mom moved to the adult family home.  I certainly have noticed a big change in her, her ice very good appetite now comes and goes, she thought I was my sister Candy when I saw her Friday and the time before she looked as if she didn’t know who I was.  It doesn’t upset me the way it did in the beginning, I am getting much better at not taking it personally because it is part of the dementia.

I have been going back and forth for that year trying to decide about selling my parents furniture and putting our furniture from downstairs up here.  The rooms all need painting, but not having furniture or very much will make it easier to paint.  I’ve been trying to understand what has kept me from doing it.

My older sister Ellen is very supportive of the idea:

 I surely understand why you would want to sell the furniture; you want your own house, as you wanted your own kitchen. I think it’s fine to sell it; Mom isn’t really “here” in the sense that she’ll ever go back to her furniture, any more than she will want her stove. Will it in any way benefit her for you to keep it when you need to get out from under? I don’t see that it will. I have no objection to letting it all go to new homes, where it will be useful and appreciated. Live your life now.

I talked to my sister Candy about it too.:

There are quite a few things she wants and has been making a list.  she also understands our need to have our home again after 11 years camping out – the last year has been limbo for us.

My longtime friend Charlotte gave me things to think about – some echoing what I have been thinking:

I can tell you why: your mom is still alive, and even though you Know she won’t ever be able to come home again, somewhere deep inside you keep thinking maybe there’s the tiniest chance, and if she did come home and see her stuff gone, she’d be So Mad!!!    That’s what kept dad and me from getting rid of mom’s clothes after she went into the care home, and was just wearing those snap-back dresses or, later, hospital gowns.  Dad said to me one time, we really should do something with mom’s clothes, and I said, yes, but I keep thinking, if she should snap out of this and come home, think how mad she’d be to find all her stuff missing!!  We chuckled about it, and just left it there.  After he died and we were getting rid of things, of course, we did get rid of mom’s clothes.  But I think it’s quite normal to feel some hesitation about getting rid of her furniture and things.  Maybe you could start with just some small pieces, or even put them out of sight somewhere, so you get used to them not being in the usual spots.

A good friend Rhonda gave me some interesting advice – she is a declutterer and organizing expert:  This is part of what I wrote her and her answer:

I don’t know what is holding me back from calling Brigh and tell him I’m ready for him to take the pieces for his shop.  I don’t know what it takes for me to give myself permission to do it.  I think part may be being afraid of “getting it wrong”; of selling something and later wishing I hadn’t.

The main thing to know right now is that you need to HONOR some of your mom’s things, HONOR some of what your younger sis wants, but also to remember that you are NOT the next storage unit!  You and hubby need to be thinking of a deadline for her to come up with the money to have things shipped to her, come get them or help you and hubby bring them to her.  Those are the options, clear and simple.  You two have already gone WAY overboard in taking care of your mum all these years and it’s high time you started taking care of yourselves – and allow yourself the permission to do so, darlin’!

We talked on the phone later and it really helped to understand what was going on – she had just gone through it with her mother-in-law.  She and her husband had to clear everything out in a weekend and her husband felt her would just put the furniture on the lawn for anyone to take.

Some of it for me is wanting to be sure I don’t “get it wrong” or 5 years later wish I hadn’t sold something.  I almost felt as if I was pushing Mom out and doing things behind her back – yet, she really isn’t in this world and I don’t want to upset her.  Now I realize she doesn’t remember as much as she did, she don’t always know what day it is or where she is.

I realize that Candy and I have more emotion attached to the things than Ellen – she is much more objective and that helps me so much.  I heard something on the radio this week that helped as well – keeping everything you have over your lifetime keeps you in who you were.  I see now also that being with all the furniture from my childhood keeps me in who I was and having our furniture is who I am .  Though in some ways, that furniture is also who I was.  It will be interesting to see how it feels after 11 years.

I was frustrated by a woman who was to come and photograph things so she could help me value things for sale.  It took forever for her to come and then didn’t hear from her.  So I found someone else and sold some things but it was not encouraging.  I feel in my naiveté I may have been taken a little.   I realized when Jo came back and we worked tougher photographing things in the hall closet, I felt comfortable and at ease with her.

She sells on-line and while she was here, called someone she knows about the things we did and the woman was ready to come over and shop.  Jo said she will have the values by next week – we’ll see how this works.  It turns out she was very upset to find her camera card didn’t have any pictures on it and she was really upset – must be why I never heard from her.

I said all she had to do was call me, I wouldn’t have been angry – it is not known=ing that irritated me.  I told her the story of my Dad who worked with a Wilmington, CA,  boat builder in the 30’s – the guy used to be a rum runner.  It was on the water and one day Dad dropped a tool in the water – he didn’t want to tell Dick but knew he had to tell him.  So he went to Dick and told him how sorry he was that he had dropped a tool in the water.  Dick told he” Thanks so much for telling, the guys usually don’t tell me!”.   It was definitely not the answer he was expecting from Dick.

As Jo and I were working, I realized I was not comfortable with Brigh – probably the reason I was reluctant to call him and have him take the things on consignment to his shop.

I also had talked about it at the Caregivers Support Group – they were so helpful and reassuring as my sisters and friends.  I’ll see what happens next.

I am beginning to think I have begun to give myself persuasion to do this.

 

 

I’m Amazed And Grateful!

November 13, 2013

yippeeCatWThank You www. sodahead.com for this great photo

My last post was my 200th and I now have 73 followers, that is mind-boggling.  I am very grateful to all 73 followers and also to all the people who  have read my blog posts.  All I can say is WOW!  I looked at some of the stats for my blog and was amazed at how many people in so many countries have checked out my blog.  I know some people have a whole lot more posts and followers, but it is so cool for me.

I started this blog about 3 years ago and at times wondered if anyone would be interested in what I had to say – apart from my family and friends.  I have had people make wonderful comments and I have found many wonderful blogs because of it.  How cool is that!  Thank You all for your interest and comments.

I started it  about Rheumatoid Arthritis, then I have slowly added other subjects because I was dealing with them.  Some posts – like the moles – have nothing to do with anything else, I just wanted to write about them because it was fun for me.  I have grown and changed, though RA is still with me – I have a different perspective on it and how I have been perceiving it.

I have learned so much from writing the blog and also reading other blogs, not only RA but also all kinds of other things I had no idea existed.  I am so pleased that people care enough to comment on my posts and give me ideas and possible solutions for things I have been dealing with for the past months and years.

As I am working on my own healing, I am learning more about myself; my Mom’s dementia has made it very obvious what some of the childhood programs I have been operating on all my life.  I am working on selling my Mom’s furniture so Eddie and I can have our own furniture in the living areas rather than piled up down in the basement.  But it also making me realize that is who I was and I want to be the me I am now.

I now realize I have a lot of emotion attached to my childhood and things of my parents.  I am letting it simmer on the back burner at the moment so I can truly let go.  I have come across things and each one has memories attached – yet the practical side of me thinks it is lovely but where will I put it?  I will also have to dust it.  I am noticing I am getting less emotionally attached and I’m glad about that.

So thank you everyone for your interest and support.  Consider yourselves hugged!

About Mom

November 10, 2013

I haven’t written much about my Mom since September when she turned 95.  It is getting harder to visit her because she is slowly going downhill and at time she doesn’t look my Mom.  A couple of weeks ago I had a call from the nurse at Elderplace.  She was concerned because Judy sent a note in that she had noticed a sore on Mom’s left thigh.  They checked but it was close to time for Mom to leave; they decided to have her come back the next day for a more thorough exam.

They think it is because she sleeps on her left side all night and also realized there was no cushion on her wheelchair.  So Friday the physical therapist was going to make sure there was a cushion and also they ordered a hospital bed to help with keeping her feet up as well as helping diminish the sore before it got any worse.   The nurse really appreciated that Judy let them know so soon so it could be treated.

When I went the following Tuesday, I asked if Mom had gone on Friday – she had.  What amazed Judy was how fast the bed arrived – on Friday.  Now it is easier to pull the bed out and help Mom turn over to the right side often enough to relieve the pressure on her left side so the sore is resolving itself.  The hospital bed is much easier for her to pull out and put back than the other bed.

Mom is usually sitting on a dining room chair or the wheelchair because it is hard for her to walk.  Judy does her best to have Mom use the walker to go around house so she will not lose her ability to walk for as long as possible.  She is usually quiet and cooperative until it is time to get up, change her clothes, have a shower and wash her hair.  That is when she gets very feisty and resists Judy.

Mom sleeps a lot more now and even when I come to visit in the morning, she is likely to close her eyes.  I started reading a Miss Read book to her, I am not sure if she is taking very much in as I read.  I ask her if she would like to hear more and she will say yes.  In some ways I feel I am copping out a bit but it is hard to have a conversation with her because she mumbles and repeats words so I don’t know what she is saying.  I think she knows what I am asking, it’s just not going through the shorted circuits to what she wants to say.

Some days I don’t want to go, but I don’t want her to think I have abandoned her.Judy tells me she knows the days of the week I come.  She tells me Mom is aware of things even though she can’t express them in words.  I will admit, this Friday I don’t think she quite knew who I was, that I was her middle daughter.  I call her Mom and I suspect it is inside somewhere deep that she knows who I am – or at least a familiar presence.

My older sister Ellen wrote in an email – “It’s hard, but important, for me to see her as a person and not just my Mom”.  I am realizing that is also important for me as well.  she and Dad have been big authority figures for me and I’ve seen them as Mom and Dad.   But I have not really seen her as Ruth, a person with a history and experiences that don’t necessarily involve me, the child.  I know the little she would talk about, but she as always been very quiet about that part of herself.

Sometimes she has told us things but I could always tell when she didn’t want to talk about it – I would ask a question and her answer would be “I don’t know, I don’t remember”.  I have met member sod her family and know things from them,; I have met people on Dad’s side who knew him and his parents.  It was interesting to hear what they had to say, some I heard from Mom but there were new things as well.

She did talk about her family some and I loved hearing about the great aunts – I call them the Awesome Seven.  Two of them were quite interesting and I also heard a lot from Mom’s younger brother when we would visit them in Waterford.  They had a summer house there, around the corner from the nuclear plant.  Don embroidered a lot of the stories about the family, so it was quite entertaining  Whatever he talked about, he made it so funny and I loved hearing his stories.   His wife Betty had heard them all before, so when Eddie I went down to visit, he would talk with Betty while Don told me stories.

I also realize I have only looked at the things that have bugged and frustrated me about Mom, time to see the more positive loving side.  I know she loved all three of us and wanted to protect us – it was some of the ways she went about it that put my teeth on edge.  I think I wrote a post about all the wonderful things I remember about Mom; this morning I thought of another one, she taught us to make a bed with hospital corners so everything stayed put.

Mom is a loving a giving woman, I think sometimes how she was brought up made it difficult to say it in words.  As I think about it, I think it was easier to express love for us by doing rather than saying.  I realize now that Mom and Dad always made me feel loved and wanted, that Mom was home when I came home from school – so many kids didn’t have that.   In many, many ways, I was blessed with the parents I had – it has taken experience and getting older to really appreciate what I had.  My sisters may have had a different view – this comes from the middle child.

Crazy Weather The Last Couple of Days

November 3, 2013

One thing about Seattle weather, it is never dull.  My Dad used to say “If you don’t like what it is doing right now, wait a bit and it will change”.  Friday I went up to Future of Flight with Eddie – getting up at 4:15 and leaving a little after 5 makes a loooong day.  I was going to a birthday lunch with Charlotte, Joyce, Lois and Joanie – it’s been ages since all of us were together for a birthday.

We were meeting at noon, so I had some time to myself.  Turns out Eddie is looking for someone to paint some sign and do posters – I thought of Christi who lives near the Future of Flight.  She came about 10 and we had time to visit, then she and Eddie talked about what he needs and I read my book while they were gone.  Then Christi had to leave and I headed up to Marysville.  We’ll see how it works out.

The forecast was for rain later in the afternoon – Eddie was hoping it would wait until we got home before it started.  It was a bit windy and cloudy, some sun peeks at times but no rain.  Then in the evening we could hear the wind pick up and some rain, it was really blowing outside.  When we got up Saturday, it was really windy – I saw the little table on the porch go rolling towards the edge of the hill.  We found the chairs had slid towards the back door – Eddie put them in the little house.  The garden cart had slid off the porch, so he put it on the other side of the BBQ.

It blew all the time we were out, we decided to go a couple of places and then hibernate at home.  The wind shook the car a lot as we were driving and I noticed on the way back on the Viaduct how much the waves were hitting the docks on the waterfront.  It was a grey Sound with large whitecaps no matter where we looked.

We heard on the news that some places had lost power, thank goodness we didn’t.  The two floating bridges had waves, 520 was closed.

2004177412

This gives you an idea of what happens on the 520 bridge with really high winds.  It is closed more often than 90.

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This is what people saw if they tried to cross the bridge.  As you see, they have turned into a toll bridge and traffic was down a lot when that happened.  I think the traffic has increased again.  Don’t get me started on the replacement bridge.

2022180640

The I-90 bridge gets its share of waves.  On one of my Ike Pono weekends, it was doing this when I went over to Bellevue in the morning – a little tense.

The other one that I used to cross was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge when I was doing the medical supplement study.  I remember one particular day it was quite windy and I could really feel it hitting the car, I was very glad to cows over to the other side.

1TNBThey have put a second span for it – now there is one span for each direction.

This also is closed down when the winds hit a certain strength.  They have been known to close it when the snow and ice get to be too much.  It is quite a view as I crossed the bridge, much more fun when it is a calm, sunny day.

I ran across a picture of one of the ferries as it was going from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island.  Looks like a wild ride.

ferry2

ferry1Thanks to Tahoma Beadworks for the photos.

Today it is very calm, I think the sun is going to do more than just peek out once in a while.  There is no telling what will happen next.


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