May 30, 2016

The sun is striking sparks of light across the freshly washed landscape.

It’s going to be a glorious week, and just for the moment (knock on wood), there isn’t a single scheduled obligation. The flurry of medical appointments is pretty much done, for Mom. We have a few more weeks of special eyedrops to go, but that’s all right-its at least easier to bear than the weeks of surgical drains that tied me down. She’s doing really well now with her vision, and it will be exciting to see if eyeglasses will be helpful for her again. I might even be willing to play card games with her, if she can see enough to play. I stopped enjoying playing games, after a few frigid winters in the mountains of Oregon. We would get snowed in an average of two weeks a year, we lived four miles from the nearest paved road. Countless card and board games were played-enough to keep me for the rest of my life. I think I could bear to pick them up again, if it becomes possible for her to enjoy playing again. I guess the reunion will be a good test of her ability and willingness. I will have to start this week calling facilities and setting up tours. I also need to talk to her caregivers supervisor, and see if they are going to be able to handle more hours for Mom. There are a couple more agencies out there, if the current one can’t handle the increase. We’re going to have to move carefully, going forward.

Sometimes she remembers that we are looking for a place, and sometimes she doesn’t. I try to keep the discussion low key and matter of fact, and thus far she just thinks of it as ‘someday’. I’m hoping that this will eventually lead to acceptance. I would like to take things slowly, but it isn’t just my patience and peace at stake here. For the last two weekends, Kevin has tried to make us a special breakfast while Mom was sleeping. Both times, just as he was sitting down, out would come Mom. He would put his food aside, and instead of sitting down with me get up and cook for Mom. It’s the lack of time together, just the two of us, that’s difficult to juggle. The fact that after all that, she only eats a couple of bites…well, that doesn’t help. It isn’t her fault, she’s just looking to be a part of things, and you can’t blame her for that. What’s even harder for him is that he stays up late for the express purpose of having quiet time to unwind, and she often wanders at night, disturbing the peace. I will be heavily promoting social activities at any facility I show her. With back surgeries and the ensuing disability, I have gown somewhat accustomed to a solitary existence. My husband comes home every day, but I seldom see other people. Thus, the pursuits I engage in are solitary ones. Immersing myself in the natural world, writing, activist commitments online…I don’t even get to read, these days. None of these enterprises are inclusive. Boredom is her worst enemy, and I am limited, physically, in what I can do for her.

Whatever is going on with my spine, or gut, or both-has been cramping my style, and I can barely make it to the end of the driveway and back, on foot. That’s maybe a hundred yards, round trip. Pathetic. Sure makes it difficult to keep up with two rowdy, energetic dogs. Thank goodness Mom takes naps too. Physical limitations make me angry, and I suppose that’s a good thing-it at least moves me forward. Logic tells me my legs will eventually fail, but I will not surrender them easily. I will take my cues from the sunshine today though, and push my worries into tomorrow. I can’t do anything much on a holiday, anyway. And I think I will try to get out to the cemetery and take care of Daddy’s’ grave. I like to see it when the flags are there. As the dogs keep reminding me, it’s too nice of a day to waste on worry. I need to be more dog.


May 28, 2016

The air is misty and soft, with clouds dressed for mourning manifesting occasional tears of rain.

It’s the type of day where rain is mostly suspended in the air. Even when there doesn’t seem to be any falling rain, you can get wet simply by walking through the atmosphere. It has been an exceptionally long week, lots of miles driven and much accomplished. I started the week with a rare solo excursion to Tacoma for a check-up with the plastic surgeon. It’s an all-day endeavor, with three plus hours of driving-for a five minute appointment. Tuesday was a trip to Poulsbo for Moms’ second cataract surgery. She did fine, even though it bothered her a bit more than the first one.We kept her eye shield on for the first couple of days, so that she would keep her hands off of it. We have a daunting regimen of eye drops, with each eye on a different schedule. I am grateful to have a chart to follow, so that I can keep track. She already has three eye drops to do, the surgery added three more. Her vision has improved steadily, even more than I had hoped for, I think. She will never have good vision, but she may be able to see enough to watch tv again. And it certainly helps her with navigation, balance, and confidence. I feel much better now that we have her eyes and teeth the best we can get them. Wednesday I had radio check-ins and Mom had appointments with the eye surgeon, the dentist, and her case worker. Thursday I had an appointment for acupuncture, and yesterday Mom had to see the foot doctor, and get her hair done.

Thankfully, she had a caregiver yesterday, so all I had to do was go into Port Hadlock and pre-pay for Moms’ hair. I like to pay for a months’ worth ahead, so that the caregivers don’t have to worry and neither do I. The week before had left us both pretty exhausted, and I’m grateful for the rain today, no outside chores need berate me for being undone. I see a day ahead with room for naps, and I abdicate all responsibility for the duration. We have movies from Netflix piled up waiting to be watched, white hot chocolate, cookies, and popcorn. I think we’ll survive. Even the dogs are more willing to have a lazy day when it’s wet out there. I have no energy left this week, any chaos has to wait. I’ve been debating what to with the medication that Mom takes to even out her moods, the doctor has said that we could cut down the dosage if necessary. It was an issue at night to time her medication so that she didn’t fall asleep at the table, and we didn’t have to carry her to bed. First I tried cutting the pills in half, giving her one half in the morning, and again at bedtime. Overall, this has turned out to be the best option, the drawback is that she remains pretty drowsy throughout the day.  I tried only giving her a half at night, but that made her markedly more grumpy during the day. If she doesn’t take any, she’s a pickle-a dill pickle, crisp and tart.

The best thing this week was the outcome from the visit by her case worker. He came out to the Island for the reevaluation of Moms’ needs, which was nice. When you get old enough, you get house calls. Taking myself and my husband out of the equation as caregivers made a huge difference in what she qualifies for. She went from forty-five hours of care a month to one hundred and fifty-five hours. I’m not sure if the agency we use will be able to handle the hours, but they would certainly be put to good use. It would free me up to get out and canvass some facilities. That way, I can narrow the field before I bring Mom along. Too many choices would only confuse her. It means that Kevin and I can plan things without having to ask my brother to come down and stay with Mom. It would also mean that I could get out of the house a little more, I have a few friendships up for renewal. I’ve hardly seen anyone outside of family who’s not in the field of medicine, for the last year and a half. When I look in a mirror these days, I see I’ve grown more bags and wrinkles-while Moms seem to be smoothing out, as she lets go of all worry. I hope this doesn’t mean that it will be a race to the finish…I don’t think I’m done yet, but boy, could I use a vacation. A real one, that doesn’t involve doctors and hospitals-but offering a different kind of healing. Something that recharges the soul rather than draining it. Long, uninterrupted baths with the door open. Going to the beach on a whim, staying up late to see the stars without worrying about what time I have to get started the next day. Timing dinner for when my husband gets home, so that his is not lukewarm or overcooked. I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it still seems a  long and complicated way off. My attitude will undoubtedly improve after a restful day-so you, reader, will have to wait just a little longer for me to catch up.

May 21, 2016

Daytime, as it turns out, is the wrong time for me to try and write. 

I’ve been sleeping a little longer in the mornings and trying to write at various times during the day. My desk is a comfortable place to do it, but it makes me too accessible and I find it difficult to keep my concentration. Here, in the porcelain palace, Einie settles right in on his bed. Out there, he fusses to go outside. Mom can’t stay at her table for very long, and comes into the office every few minutes to say hi, or ask “What’s going on?” Every time she does, my train of thought jumps the tracks and flies out the fracking window. On Wednesday, Moms’ case worker came out to reevaluate her needs. I should hear next week how this will affect her daily rate. I’m hoping that we can get it high enough to make finding a nice place easier. Mom, of course, doesn’t remember our breakthrough conversation of a few days ago, when we worked through this together. Except that she does seem to have retained some vestige of memory, tucked away in her subconscious brain. She doesn’t seem surprised when I talk about it matter of factly every day. She does tune it out, though. She has gone back to shoving the pets off of the furniture-whenever I’m not close enough to stop her. She even came into the office and shoved my cat off of my desk, saying, “Cats don’t belong on the table.” The fact that it’s a desk, not a table, has no bearing on the matter. She’s seen me eat there, so it’s a table.

I’m hoping for a nice, quiet weekend, to regroup and prepare for the week ahead. I know that just saying that is an invitation for Murphy’s Law to kick in…but hope is a good thing to have, when all else is stripped away. Next week is a busy one, on Monday I see the plastic surgeon for the last (I hope) time. Tuesday is Moms’ eye surgery, Wednesday is her follow-up, Thursday is acupuncture for me, and Friday Mom goes back to the foot doctor. The house is starting to look pretty good, less like a hoarder lives here and more like a collector. I’m beginning to look forward to the reunion later this summer. It’s wonderful to have a couch again, and the whole family loves to gather on it. Last night there was my husband and me, our two dogs, and one of the cats filling up the sofa. I leaned towards my husband and murmured, “A king size bed and a longer sofa.” He gave me a tired but indulgent smile. Theo the cat has been joining us at night lately, bringing the bed count up to five. The cats have been changing behaviors lately. Nicci, our wild-eyed barn kitty, has finally decided that being held or on someone’s lap is not only okay, it can be downright pleasant. It took five years for her to get to this point. Theo has just about given up on being afraid of new people, there have been so many caretakers here that he’s getting used to having strange people around. Since I’ve been letting him go outside, he has declared a truce on the urine wars. (knock on wood)

He even got into the dog bed with Einstein this morning. It is getting pretty ridiculous at night with everyone sleeping in a pile. Kevin and I are forced to opposite edges of the bed, while the pets stretch out and steal the covers. Maybe, when we get the kennels, we should just crawl in there ourselves for a little peace from the furry horde. There are still a few patches of long grass out in the yard and as it happens, that’s a good thing. It seems that Newton can’t poop unless it’s in long grass, and he’s quickly filling up his designated patch. I’m not sure what he’ll do once it’s all been mowed. Maybe I can get him to retreat to the forest to do his business.

Mom got up kind of grumpy today. As I was making her breakfast, she went into the living room to un-dog the couch. I came in behind her and told her if she kept that up, she could fix her own food. We got through breakfast without further comment, but she’s gone into the bathroom and come out dressed. I wonder where she thinks we’re going? I’ll ask. Ah-I am informed that she is going to ‘some kind’ of meeting today, and ‘someone’ will be picking her up. This could just be the kind of day its best to sleep through. The weather is quite a bit cooler than it has been, and it looks like rain showers for the day. That’s not as nice as sleeping with a good heavy rain thundering softly on the roof, but it’ll do in a pinch. I think a test of that theory is in order…

May 20, 2016

It wasn’t long before yesterdays plans fell apart.

I could almost count each and every muscle that was sore and complaining-it felt like I had  been hit by a train. I only made it through two paragraphs before I had to lay back down. My gut, which is usually deflated by morning, was still tight as a drum, awakening all my painful spots with the pressure. After lunch, both Mom and I went down for the afternoon. I’m going to make another adjustment to her medication. It’s really strange, when she gets a half dose of her medication, it knocks her out. When she takes a whole one, it wakes her up and whacks her out. 

May 19, 2016

A lot has happened in the last couple of days, leaving me with no time to write.

Yesterday was a busy one with three appointments, and we were on the run all day. We had two appointments in Port Townsend, with too much time between them to just hang out somewhere, but barely enough to fit a meal in. I took Mom to her eye doctor, and she’s decided to go ahead with the second cataract surgery. Her vision has even improved a little more as she heals, although it will never be 20/20. It’s going to get a little complicated with her eye drops, she will be at different stages in each eye, with varying amounts and changes each week. If not for the charts they gave me, I doubt that I could keep track of it all. After that we came back to the house for lunch and to check on my hubby, who was home sick. Then we dashed back to town for her dentist appointment. She still makes a face every time I tell her that we’re going, but really the worst she has to go through is biting down on the goopy stuff until it sets up. There was a gorgeous rose bush blooming outside the dentists office-it had two different colored blossoms, some a deep, rich red and the rest in orange flame. Together the effect is spectacular. Even though we were a few minutes late, both of us sat there a moment, gobsmacked. Just seeing all the flowers this year had made me yearn to get more of what my husband used to call ‘colored things on sticks’.

Kevin hired a man to come and mow down the jungle taking over the yard. He’s going to come back with a bushwhacker next week, and do in one day of clearing brush what would take several years to do myself. I haven’t even managed to weed the flower bed yet this year. Some of the things blooming in there were not intentionally planted. My chest-high Gunnera, or ‘dinosaur food’-is finally getting too big for people to think that its rhubarb. The leaves are now about four feet across, and its just a baby of two years. It will dominate the front yard when it’s fully grown. Although its native land is in South America, it sure does seem to like it here. One of the amazing things about this plant is that, no matter how big it gets, it will die down every winter. When the leaves do wither, you simply fold them back over the plant and they act as mulch, protecting it until spring. I’d like to separate the offshoots and put them in spots around the pond. It would be like living in a land of giants. Fully grown, you could probably shelter a family of four in a rainstorm-under one leaf. When things are settled with Mom, I will dust off my camera and start trying to capture the beauty of my home, all of the magical mystery that I find here…and share them with you, reader.

May 17, 2016

The clouds may be making a comeback, but inside the house, sunlight is breaking through.

What started out as something pretty awful, led to a major breakthrough on the home front. The day was mostly typical, although Mom did seem largely confused in the morning. At noon the caregiver arrived, and she and my hubby made a lot of headway getting things out of the living room. The home visit by the supervisor was postponed until four pm, and by the time she got here the house didn’t look quite the disaster that it was. The trouble came after everyone else had gone. Mom decided that if she wasn’t allowed to smack the dogs off the couch, she would take her ire out on them every time they passed by. She would strike out at them as they passed, or kick them if they came close enough. I asked her why she was being mean to them when they hadn’t done anything, and she fell back on “I don’t want them on the furniture.” I protested, “But Mom, they don’t know what you’re punishing them for if you just do it all the time. It doesn’t do any good.” She cast a jaundiced eye my way. “It does me some good.” She mumbled. So, when she got up and delivered a particularly hard kick to Newton-I lost it.

When I got up and approached her, she drew back the hand holding her coffee, ready to let fly. So the first battle was to make her relinquish the mug, no easy task, but I wasn’t willing to take another coffee bath. She started swinging, and I started holding onto whatever appendage was currently employed. I finally had her pinned and just held her, careful to avoid teeth. Mom holds nothing back when she’s angry. When she finally agreed to stop, I let go and we retreated to our respective corners, both of us thoroughly miserable. Mom went into the bathroom to collect herself, and when she came back out, I was waiting with a fresh cup of coffee and an abject apology. In tears, I hugged her and told her how much I hate it when we fight. I asked her to please just hang on for a little while longer, that we were working hard on a solution to the problem. For the first time, she seemed willing to talk about the move. Armed with fresh coffee, we sat at the table and really talked, and she was completely there for the entire conversation. I told her that we wanted to find a place for her where she could be active, engaged, and happy. I revealed to her that I didn’t feel like I was providing enough for her in activities and interests. I said that my goal all along has been to make her last years not just comfortable, but fulfilling. I told her that my goal was to find a place that she liked close enough so that I could see her every day…and the thunderclouds in her eyes cleared, the stubborn set of her jaw melted away, and she heaved an enormous sigh of relief. And just like that, I had my mother back.

I believe now that she feared we were going to do what we used to call in long term care a ‘granny dump’. It’s where a family puts their parent into a nursing home and just abandons them. When she realized that wasn’t the case, everything changed for her. The suspicion and resentment has been laid to rest, along with some careworn lines on her face. We snuggled and giggled together on the couch while we ate dinner, and the rest of the evening was warm and pleasant. She did say that she could be happy here, but she listened as I explained to her that my health hasn’t been the best and that the stress was passing through me to my husband, and his health was impacted as well. She expressed understanding when I said that Kevin and I needed time together, just the two of us, husband and wife. I admitted that it was becoming harder all the time to keep up with all her needs, and confessed that the whole conundrum was making me grouchy and distant. I swore to her my love and concern, and she gracefully embraced it. My heart remembered a time at the end of my high school years, when she and I lived together like sisters, sharing everything in our hearts. I cannot fully express my gratitude at feeling that way again…no matter how fleeting it may be.

I know that this window of clarity will not last forever, and that we have many more struggles ahead, but for the moment we are companions, not combatants. Her caseworker will be here on Wednesday, and will reevaluate her needs, taking us out of the equation as caregivers. This will raise what they call her ‘daily rate’ which then determines how much Medicaid will pay a facility. Her daily rate at the moment is quite low, because we do most of the caregiving. Armed with that, Mom and I will start visiting various facilities and checking them out. I told her to not hesitate to tell me if there’s something she doesn’t like about any particular place, because we want her to be completely comfortable. Taking advantage of the atmosphere, I broke the bad news. In my experience, most long term care facilities do not have bathtubs. This can be hard for a bath person, which she and I both are. It’s more than getting clean, its therapy. Mom used to watch television while she bathed, I prefer a book to read. Usually at the most they will have a whirlpool, which is cumbersome and time consuming-and thus rarely attempted by overworked staff. Before yesterday it would have been a deal breaker. But I think she realizes that there are compromises to be made, and she said we should just keep looking for the best available place. All in all, although my shoulders are stiff and sore I feel unburdened, and even Mom has more bounce than shuffle in her step. It’s a good day.

May 16, 2016

Another day, another attempt to achieve normalcy, or something like it.

I never got to the end of the first paragraph yesterday. So everything’s been upside down this week. Mom has turned nocturnal, and I’ve risen each day to lights ablaze. I have no idea how long she’s been up, and I’m not looking forward to finding out. If she’s been up for a long time, she wants conversation and breakfast, right now. I don’t function fully until I’ve had at least one cup of coffee, and even then I only speak mumble for the first hour or so. She was up when I fed the pets this morning, with her usual “Whatcha doin’? That looks like dog food.” (A hint that I should be fixing people food.) And so the day begins. We have a new supervisor for the caregivers, and she is going to make a home visit today. It’s not the best time for it, and I hope we don’t give a bad impression, because the house looks like the tornadoes in the Midwest swung by and deposited their load of furnishings in our living room. For some time now, my husband and I have been looking for a couch-we miss sitting together. A couple of days ago we ran across an ad for a free one, including delivery. It was dropped off yesterday, and they (albeit reluctantly) even wrestled it into the house for me. It’s very comfortable, and the dogs are in seventh heaven now that they can slumber next to us in comfort. The only problem is that the furniture displaced by the new addition is still here, crowding the room.

I’ve been writing and watching Mom for the last hour. She will come out, go to the bathroom and then get her cup of coffee off of her table and take it in to the microwave for a warm up. She takes it back to her table and drops it off, then goes back to the bathroom…and back to bed. She stays in her room until the coffee has had time to cool, and comes back out to do the whole thing over again. She did this three times before I simply cooked her breakfast and went to get her. She’s been losing her robe a lot lately, and when she can’t find it, she comes and gets mine, which she seems to be able to locate just fine. She wound up with both of my robes the other day, while hers was laying across the foot of her bed the whole time. Last night, as Kevin was tucking me in, we noticed that the dogs had elected to stay on the couch. It didn’t really require any thought on our part for us to take advantage of having the bed to ourselves for once. It’s been a rare occurrence  since the mastectomy and reconstruction that we have had time and space for intimacy, and it was like finding ourselves again, in each other. We were probably lucky that not only the dogs stayed out, but so did Mom. It would not have been that unusual for her to seek us out, wanting to know ‘what’s going on’.

Now that we have a new piece of furniture, Mom has made it her mission to keep the dogs off of it, reigniting our old power struggle. When I first put the couch in place, I sat down on it with the pups to try it out. Mom came stalking over and demanded that I ‘get that dog off the couch’. “No thanks, Mom,” I replied, “it’s my couch.” Her jaw tightened as she replied, “I don’t care, don’t want dogs on it.” I looked at her with one eyebrow raised, and sighed. “Well, don’t care that you don’t want them on the couch Mom.” She couldn’t think of a reply right away and returned to her table, obviously upset. I told her, “Take it easy, Mom, you won’t have to worry about it at your new place.” I’ve been trying to be factual about the change, hoping she will accept it. She said, “Good. When do I move?” Is it possible that she will be okay with that? I’m not sure, but it seems like a good sign to me. I know that as stressed as we have been, it has to be even harder for her. As long as she is in denial of her condition, its even more confusing for her to try and analyze what’s happening to her. The chaos with the furniture has her wandering in confusion, although I’ve made sure not to disturb or block her pathways. And this morning she is obviously hallucinating. She keeps playing with the empty air in front of her face, pulling and twisting, turning things only she can see. She seems a little unsettled today, Searching the kitchen counters for anything of interest.

Kevin brought home a rare four beers last week, and since the fridge was full and we were in no hurry to drink it, it was left on the counter in the kitchen. A couple of mornings ago I rose to find Mom wandering around with her coffee cup in one hand and a beer in the other. “How do I get this open?” She wondered aloud for my benefit. “Mom, why are you wanting to open a beer? She has never been a beer drinker. “Oh, is that what it is?” She queried, blue eyes sparkling. Luckily, it was Stella Artois, and the tops don’t twist off. A few minutes later she came back through the kitchen, sweeping a beer off the counter as she went, full of tricks. She countered my query as to what she was going to do with that with a perfectly deadpan delivery. “Well, I thought I would drink it.” I spoke slowly and carefully, my shoulders drooping at the thought of a day of stubborn debate. “Mom, it’s five O’clock in the morning.” Her eyes twinkling with mischief she replied, “So what?” In a desperate attempt to regain  my reason, I told her it would be nice if she at least asked Kevin if she could have one, and she asserted that she didn’t have to ask anyone. Deciding that I was only beating my own head against a brick wall, I surrendered in silence. After about a half hour of trying to get the top off she eventually forgot why it was so important to her and gave up-although I had to retrieve the beer from her room later. The last thing I need right now is a drunken Doodle.


May 15, 2016

It’s been a topsy-turvey world for the last couple of days. 

Mom went to bed early on Friday…two in the afternoon. The trigger may have been that I decided a mid-afternoon ice cream treat was in order. Ice cream is usually what she has right before her bath, and bed. It was Whidbey Island Salted Caramel, to which I added ‘Nilla wafers and a few malted milk balls. I believe that the occasional indulgence of a special treat should be fully decadent. In for a penny, in for a few more pounds. As small as our little store is here on the Island, it stocks a lot of goodies and gourmet items, many of them local. And when I stopped there, I got to see a former colleague from the Island Emergency Preparedness team. It’s nice to be amongst friends. Anyway…Mom went down for the count, not waking again until late in the evening. We knew it would be trouble, and it was. Amend that…is trouble, and it starts now.


May 13, 2016

I’m starting today with a better attitude.

I feel better since my acupuncture session yesterday. Even just talking to my doctor helps, he treats me as an intelligent being, he’s always generous with his knowledge, and I can bounce theories off him without feeling foolish. He loves to share his passion for medicine, particularly Chinese medicine and acupuncture, combining it with western medicine and taking a holistic approach to treating patients. I like the idea of treating the patient as a whole being. He also did an extra adjustment for my inflammation, and I am much more comfortable today. My belly’s still fat, but not hard and uncomfortable. I’m determined to do everything I can to inform myself between now and the colon safari. I once again have the drive to shoulder that boulder and heave it uphill. It all comes down to will. In practice I have seen people who, if one little thing goes wrong with their health are ready to give it all up. In one Scandinavian country, incontinence is considered a valid reason for requesting assisted suicide. And I have seen others go through incredible physical hardships and yet retain their will to live. I’m fairly certain that I fall into the latter category. My father once told my mother that if he were maimed in war, if he lost a limb or an eye, he would never come home. He couldn’t seem to handle the idea of being less than whole. I’ve had more than my share of having things taken off of, or out of my body and disposed of, but am still whole. It hasn’t taken anything from who I am. Not that those experiences don’t change us, but I tend to look at that as growth, not loss. I am surrounded by reasons to keep on going, even if it means chasing after the elusive realm of ‘what could be’. The doctor tells me that, in his opinion, intelligent people are cursed by the need to find answers, even when there aren’t any. That feels about right.

For some reason, Mom decided she wanted to go in back with me for the treatment. Not that I blame her-treatment rooms are at least marginally more entertaining than waiting rooms. Filled with the mysterious tools and appliances of the trade, they’re a drawer snoopers’ delight. I was curious about how she would take the unconventional methods my pain doctor uses. She got the quiet, closed look she reserves for lunatics and small children, so I figure she thinks of it as some whackadoodle quackery, much like how she views the healing power of crystals, and natural medicines like herbs. She kept quiet, though, while the doctor and I discussed various aspects of my care plan. She watched in silence as he placed the needles in various places. I don’t think she could see the needles, they’re so fine. When the doctor dimmed the lights and put a heat lamp on me to facilitate better results, she started playing with my feet and asking questions. “Why do we have to sit in the dark?” She demanded to know. “It’s supposed to be quiet and relaxing, Ma.” She found one of the needles and start flicking it with her finger, chanting “Ho-hum, ho hum,” as though the needle were a metronome keeping time. “Thats…not...helping…Mom.” Came out through clenched teeth as my nerves sent the energy flow into fibrillation and mild electric shocks shot through me. After that she settled for tickling my feet, something she sees as a benign pastime but had the effect of setting off a series of muscle spasms. I couldn’t adjust my position without setting off the needles again, so it was pretty uncomfortable at times. I think we’ll just have Mom stick to the waiting room going forward.

After being in the back of the truck for a couple of hours, by the time we got back home the dogs really needed a run, so I didn’t fuss much when they took off. I could hear voices out on the road, but they didn’t sound angry, so I gave my ankle a break and, grabbing their leashes, ambled slowly down the driveway to retrieve my errant puppies. They were hanging out with a couple of our neighbors here on the Point, regular walkers on the road. I apologized for the pup’s exuberance and they replied that the dogs were actually entertaining-going several times around the cul-de-sac at the end of the road at a full run, to their walking one. I decided to give the dogs a break and let them play some more in the yard. They returned the favor by running pell-mell through the yard and, I hoped, burning off some energy. The grass is now so tall that they become lost in it. All I can see of them is their curved tails, rising like periscopes above the waving grasses. Its pretty hilarious, watching them play hide and seek. Einstein will lie in wait, while Newton takes high bounds through the grass to get a better view. They need to get all the enjoyment out of it while they can, I think Kevin is going to talk to someone with a brush cutter for the first mow-can I get a hallelujah on that one. I think that Einstein may have had a really bad dream during the night. I woke up around two-thirty am to the sound of my dog whining. He was sitting on the floor at the end of the bed looking shaky and miserable. He usually only tolerates hugging, but he leaned into my worried embrace and raised a paw for me to hold as well. He wouldn’t get back up on the bed, and he didn’t want to go outside, so I moved the bench at the foot of the bed and curled up around him for a little while, after feeling around for any injuries that could be causing him distress. Once he had settled back down, I covered him with my robe and tried to go back to sleep. This morning, although still wrapped in my robe, he was fine. I take that as a sign that he needs beach therapy. Or maybe that’s me. Just to be sure, we’ll both go, and take Newton along for good measure.

May 12, 2016

It’s an odd day, here on the Island.

I’m writing later in the day than usual, but then everyone seems to be off their schedule. I haven’t written for a couple of days. I’ve been mired in reflection and, quite frankly, self pity. It’s a cumulative effect, one thing piling on top of another until the whole mess falls apart. That hot mess would be me. Mom is in fine fettle now that she can see a little again, although her biological clock has been a bit off with all the daytime sleeping that she does. I think she was up in the wee hours, whilst I wasn’t. The evidence-the light on at her table and an empty cookie jar-suggests that she was up for some time. I’ve seen her go back and forth to the bathroom a couple of times, but she hasn’t come all the way out yet. I will need to get her up and moving soon, we have to go in to town this afternoon. I have an appointment for acupuncture. I will be quite interested in what the doctor may be able to tell me about my latest test results. I have very high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in my blood, which is an indicator of disease or inflammation. My belly blows up over the course of the day, becoming distended and as tight as a drum by bedtime. It makes everything more difficult, from breathing to walking. And, of course, it hurts. 

Lets just get it all out while we’re at it. I’ve had a sore, swollen ankle that I don’t remember injuring and doesn’t want to heal, worries about further skin cancers, the continuing deterioration of my spine, and a tumor in my head that I don’t think we’ll ever get around to addressing, since I only get to talk to my VA provider once a year-and then only deal with one issue at a time. I’m sure there’s more, but right now I’m probably lucky that they’re finally addressing the anemia in a serious way. So, what could be the cause of my discomfort? According to what I’ve been able to find online, the options are Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or one of several cancers. My CRP levels would be considered high at five, and mine is twenty-four point nine. If we are dealing with a cancer, my CRP levels drastically reduce my chances of survival. Add it all up, and it makes me weary and more than a little bit frightened. I mean, am I really falling apart, my body systems crashing in cascade fashion? It has to be a bad sign to have so many system failures going on at once. So I’ve been having myself a little personal pity party here at the homestead. It’s a shame, too, with the lovely weather we’ve been having. I haven’t been to the beach with the dogs in a long time, and I haven’t had the stamina to play with them outside very much. Having skin cancer has made it problematic to be outside. If I stay in the shade, as I should, the mosquitos have me for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Would you like a little Zika virus with that?

The house is in a state of utter chaos, the laundry is piling up, and the kitchen is hidden behind a mountain of dirty dishes. I have to decide which mountain to climb this morning, because by the time we get back from my appointment, I will undoubtedly be done for the day. I’m leaning towards laundry, I need clothes if I’m to go anywhere today, and the bed is beyond needing to be changed. On thing I will never be is a domestic diva. It interferes with thought and creativity to be faced with mundane household chores. Speaking of chores, Mom has finally risen, so I’m off to make her breakfast. Hopefully I can come up with some answers today, for good or ill.