Monday, October 17, 2016

Cherry Ames, I Am Not

I'm back from eight days in California with my recovering mother and am more clear than ever that nursing is not the field for me (not that this was ever a question). The good news is that Mom is recovering well; by the time I left, she'd been cleared to drive and was already dressing, showering, and otherwise taking care of herself (even finally applying her own bedsore cream — don't ask).

But she is ridiculously bad about remembering to take all her medicines at the right times. She does okay with the early morning and late evening doses, but she is such a scatterbrain right now, remembering her 11 a.m., lunchtime, 3 p.m., and dinnertime meds — if she's doing anything else, that thought goes right out the window. I used to have a co-worker who consistently forgot to turn in her timesheet (and thus didn't get paid that week), and I felt the same kind of incredulous exasperation. How do you not get this???

Watching my vibrant, active, confident mom transition into a little old lady (or, as she would say, LOL — what she sincerely believes the acronym stands for) is not easy, and I am not handling it outstandingly well. Her short-term memory (see pill schedule) is poor, which I found especially frustrating.

One example (of many): We visited her primary care doctor and were shown in by Nurse Candy, who took Mom's vital signs and asked her lots of questions about the surgery and rehab. Then the doc came in and Candy went out, and the doc asked Mom if she wanted a flu shot. She said yes, so he said he'd send the nurse back in.

Mom: After Pat gives me the flu shot, we can go.
Me: Is Pat the flu shot nurse?
Mom: No, she's the nurse who was in here before.
Me: You mean Candy?
Mom: Yes.
Me: Candy is Pat?
Mom: Yes! Wait . . .

Things like this happened over and over (though we always laughed about it, which is something).

Anyway. I'm back on the Right Coast now. And it is a great joy to be home, I've already taken 75 baths, though once again my editing work is on fire and I don't see a lull in sight. I also have a head cold and feel clogged and dull. I really, really, really need a true vacation!!

Ah, well. I'm home with my boys, I have paying work, Mom's doing okay — things could be worse.

(I must say: As life philosophies go, "Things could be worse" is a tad lacking in joy. I'll work on that.)

— Lady C

p.s. Here's what I read on my family "oblication" (Sexy Em):


 Who's read the latest Maisie book? I was very disappointed — how about you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Keeping My Head Above the Murky Water

Sometimes life drags you down, despite all the wits you muster.

There was a December long ago when Husband and I weren't doing well, three Chardonnays had pneumonia, one Chardonnay had to be hospitalized, Li'l Martini had just started kindergarten and was too young to spend a whole day visiting at a hospital, our girl cat Audrey was dying — and, oh yeah, Christmas. I have always referred to this as the worst time in my life.

Last week gave me a rival!

Here's why I haven't been posting:
  • Mom is here, recovering from heart surgery. The surgery went great, but recovery is a long hard slog, and it's not all a straight upward line of achievement. There are days she is sore and constipated and discouraged, and nothing much seems to be happening. And the daily hour-plus visits . . . Wow, did I not anticipate how much TIME it would all take.
  • Please be clear: I love my mother like crazy, I will do whatever she needs, I do not begrudge her anything, including my time. But this is my reality: I must shave one or two hours off my already packed days, every single day. The one day I didn't visit her since September 2, she cried.
  • And why didn't I visit her? Regular readers know that my arthritic knees are crap. On Friday the 9th, at night, I was sitting on my bed and straightened out my right leg — and SCREAMED. 
  • I had to lead a church retreat on Saturday morning, which I did from a chair, hobbling along with a walking stick from the Dollar Store. 
  • On Sunday I went to Urgent Care. The doctor's best guess (after an X-ray) is that I broke off a piece of cartilage and it lodged between the bones. (I saw the X-ray, it is truly bone on bone in there. Hideous.) I am now on crutches.
  • I have an appointment to consult with a surgeon on October 25. I begged them to let me know if there are any openings before then. I'd like to be having surgery on October 25! (so I can be healed for Christmas for sure and maybe for Thanksgiving)
  • So, I didn't see Mom on Saturday, after my church retreat, when I was in a ton of pain and could do little but lie on the couch with ice, an Ace bandage, and a bottle of Motrin. But the next day, after I'd seen the doctor, who told me that the best thing I could do for my knee was to stay off  it, and what I really wanted my mother to say was, "Honey, don't worry about me! Stay off your knee! I am fine!", and instead she said, "Oh . . . okay . . ." in a voice heavy with sadness, I knew what I had to do. And when I got there, her roommate confirmed that Mom indeed cried when she hung up the phone. 
  • I love my mother. I will do this. I do not want a medal. I am just naming it.
  • On the Thursday before I bunged my knee, my girl cat Annabel, who is deeply bonded to Li'l Martini, threw up massively, two hours after eating. Unusual. She then didn't eat dinner, nor breakfast the following day, and she seemed unwell. I called the vet Friday morning. Turns out: oh, she was a sick sick kitty. Packed with many days worth of poo, an overfull bladder that was about to explode, sick sick sick. They sedated her and emptied her out (ew) and said, "She'll feel so much better now, she'll probably eat a huge dinner!"
  • No.
  • Nor did she eat breakfast.
  • Nor did she eat a lunch snack, or a treat, or dinner the next night (when, remember, I was hobbling on a walking stick and trying not to scream).
  • Darling Husband went to the vet for me and got an appetite stimulant, and that seemed to do the trick, but this little girl needed round-the-clock care and monitoring for several days, and it was touch and go. Annabel is an older girl, and I was preparing for the worst — but God bless her, she finally rallied and is now back to 99% of her former self.
  • (Somewhere in there I also gave her a bath, because getting her poo system back to normal took time as well,  and she didn't always make it to the litter box. Ah, the things we do for our incontinent babies.)
  • And there's an ongoing motif of sadness over all my days, because I desperately miss my daughter, my buddy, whom I hear from almost never. People always ask, "How is Mimosa?" (which, of course they do; I do the same re: their college kids), and it stresses me out because I don’t know! And I think: Should I know? Do other kids call their parents more often? Am I doing something wrong? And of course there was an explosion in NYC the other night, just a few blocks from her dorm— argggh!! Worry worry, stress stress. Though mostly I try to put it all out of my mind, because what can I do? But I miss her very much, it is a constant ache.
  • (I think she is doing well. Her first phone calls were very upbeat, even as she confessed to feeling lonely and scared sometimes. But she loves her classes, she loves the city, she loves being on her own. Yesterday, though, she was getting sick, her first college cold, and she felt crappy and couldn't talk long.)
  • And I have TONS of work. I just turned down Coldwater Creek, one of my favorite clients! But there is no way. I have five jobs this week, and another new client wants me to edit a big math book in October. It's great to be in demand (and I have no explanation for why so much, right now), but there is never any down time between this, the Mom visits, the cat care, getting the church year up and running . . . I successfully chased off a head cold last week, but I am pushing myself so hard, I feel like it's only a matter of days before I'm felled by diphtheria or something.
So, I'm not blogging. And of my four health goals, I know I am not sleeping enough (no time to sleep!) and I haven't started lifting weights (though I really want to do this, and also ride my bike and do my knee PT — I want to be as strong and fit as possible before surgery). However, I am surprisingly adept at eating less — I never have second helpings any more — and I have been eating a lot of real food. When Mom was here, we cooked fabulous meals, and then my youngest brother Mateo was here with his wife Sunny Yellow, and we had a fabulous meal (so fun!!! Good Neighbor Anne and Nurse Kathy came over, and we talked and laughed and drank wine for hours), so I've had a fridge full of good leftovers, and I every day I heat up something and then have an apple or a carrot.


I've actually lost about five pounds, though I am so busy right now, I haven't remembered to weigh myself. Crazytown.

This too shall pass.

I am very lucky to have a mother that I love and adore. She will recover, and almost every day there is progress to celebrate.

I am very grateful that my cat is so much better. When you love animals, you make a commitment — but it's always hard to know what is too much (too much money, too much intervention), and I am especially thankful that we didn't get to that point.

I am lucky to have well-paying work that I love and am good at.

I am so appreciative of the wonderful men in my house, who really stepped up this week. After teaching my Sunday night OWL class (last one!), I decided to go out to dinner and let someone cook food for me and bring it to me, which I haven't done in ages, and it felt so lovely. And then Husband texted me to say that he had finished all the laundry and was running the dishwasher and making the bed with new sheets, and Li'l Martini had done his vacuuming and brought down all the dirty dishes from his room (which, yes, filled the dishwasher), and it made me so so so happy to know that I was coming home to a sparkly clean house where no chores awaited me!!!

Anyway. That is what is going on.

I am hoping to have time today to write a lovely long e-mail to my dear friend J whose birthday is today — but just in case I don't (today includes two editing jobs, a follow-up vet visit, administering kitty Valium before said vet visit, a Mom visit, a local election, and Open House at Li'l Martini's school), I'm saying here:

Happy Birthday, J, my darling beloved friend of so many decades!!!!!
I hope your day is wonderful and you are treated like a queen.

As we all should be!

I shall now don my crown and head back to the salt mines. Where there's salt, maybe there's a margarita, that's my motto.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Choosing the Theme for My 54th Year


(Wait — I just turned 54. So, this is my 55th year, right? But that feels like rushing things. I'm just going to say 54th, okay? Let's all take a breath.)

I always make New Years resolutions, and they have changed little over the years: (1) Lose weight. (2) Manage my money better. (3) Write more. These have been the Big Three as long as I can remember.

But when I turned 50, I decided that I also wanted a birthday resolution: a guiding theme for the year. At 50, my goal was "mellow," and that was the year I truly mastered the ability to stop fretting over things I have no control over. I am very very good at this.

Of course, sometimes it takes me a while to accurately assess the situation (such as the case with my daughter's mental health, where I truly believed that my efforts and vigilance were key. They were a factor, yes, but ultimately I had no real control over anything. A bitter pill to swallow, but sister, I swallowed it. And it's good to keep this in mind as I prepare to watch my cherub fly from the nest).

The theme for 51 was "standing on the side of love." I was having a lot of conflicts with my brothers over our parents' anniversary party and was almost ready to write them out of my life, I was so mad at them. I created a lot of fun documents related to our parents' marriage (a Two Truths and a Lie game, a Jeopardy board, a song list, things like that), and I wasn't going to send copies to my brothers. But then I reflected on my theme and decided to stand on the side of love and make the loving choice. And I have to tell you: it felt much better.

I don't remember 52. Dad had just died, and I was a wreck. I think I just tried to get through the year with some grace.

And then 53, last year. Do you remember this theme?

I said yes to almost every invitation I got — but please note the qualifier "almost." I respectfully declined to attend the birthday party of a crazy person from church, I said no to two kayaking parties (dear God), and I backed out of an outdoor barbecue on a 98-degree humid afternoon. But other than that, I pretty much said yes to everything. And I usually left early (big parties are just not my thing), but hey. I was there. My friend the hostess saw me and was pleased by my presence. All was well.
But I'm also glad that it's over.☺︎

And now for this year's theme. Once again I'm choosing something that scares me a little and that will be a challenge for me, and that is: health.

Yeah, I know, I just wrote a whole post about how technically healthy I am (from a blood and organs kinda perspective), and I stand by that.

Having said that, there are some things that I could be a lot better about, namely:
  1. Sleep. I get up around 7 every morning, so I should be in bed with the lights out by 11. Yeah, this happens maybe four times a year. Maybe more if I'm sick. I love to watch movies in bed before I fall asleep, and I am rarely asleep before midnight. Last night I was up till 1:14 watching Midnight Special (it was pretty good!). And guess what: I am tired all the time! Duh.
  2. Strength. I enjoy lifting weights and feeling strong, and I know that increased muscle mass will be good for me for so many reasons. I don't know why I don't do this more often. Maybe I need to move my weights out of the basement (where I work out, when I do)? I will think about this.
  3. Good food = good fuel. Though I eat a lot of healthy things (looking over the low-fiber diet for my November colonoscopy made me shudder!!), I also eat a good number of unhealthy things. I was just reading an interview with an Olympic athlete about what she eats, and she said, "I treat my body like a Ferrari, and I give it only the best fuel." I love this analogy!
  4. Stop when I've had enough. I am very very bad at stopping before I'm too full. For dinner last night I had tastes of Mexican appetizers (guacamole and salsa and queso), four spoonfuls of elote, two ginger peach margaritas, and half a tossed salad with shrimp and avocado on it; it didn't seem like a ton of food, and I thought I had stopped before being stuffed, but I was actively uncomfortable when we got home. 
 Geneen Roth says that we all have a voice inside us that tells us when we've had enough — but that voice is very quiet. If we're reading, on the computer, watching TV, talking to people (i.e., distracted), we are likely to miss it. This makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm sure there are other things I can or could do, but these feel like good starting points and also very achievable. And every one of them will improve my life.

I did sign up again for my deep-water class, and that will start in September. Will I ride my bike before then? We'll see. After we drop off Mimosa this weekend, Mom arrives the following Friday, her surgery is scheduled for September 2, my metaphorical plate will likely be a tad full for a while.

Time to start my healthy day. Let me go contemplate the Ferrari fuel we have available. I am taking Mimosa college-shopping today, at least four stores and tons of walking, I need sustenance!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dispatches from My White-Hot Life

I thought I would share some key facts in my life at present:
  • It is crazy hot and humid here; the People Who Decide These Things have issued a heat advisory warning of some kind. I am sitting in a pool of my own boob sweat. So. Sexy.
  • My feet seem permanently swollen. I get up and walk around, elevate them when I can, and sleep with them propped on pillows, and they remain squishy pink marrows, twice the size of my usual feet. What can you do. Yeah, I'm sure it's the fault of sodium. (Trying to remember what I ate today: Corn Chex, a banana, skim milk, and some leftover Indian food. My God, the salt.)
  • I've mentioned this endless book I'm editing, right? The finish line is in sight: there are seven chapters, an Intro, and a Conclusion, and I'm going to finish chapter 5 before I knock off for the night. God willing and the creek don't rise, I should be able to finish tomorrow!!
  • And then I get a BIG FAT CHECK! 
  • Someday. My memory is that this client doesn't pay quickly. But 's okay, I've had a ton of other work as well, lots of nice checks rolling in.
  • Mimosa leaves for college in six days. SIX. DAYS. Oh man. It's good, it's all good, I know it's all good, but I am beside myself with all the feels.
  • A skunk died in our backyard a week or so ago, and Husband, Intrepid Neighbor Jeff, and I have been trying all manner of things to eradicate Eau de Skunk. Today's remedy, a concoction of peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, may have helped? Or maybe the driving rainstorms we've had on and off since 5 p.m.? Or maybe having the carcass finally hauled away by the trash guys? Who knows. But I'm smelling it a lot less today than I was yesterday, and that is something to be profoundly grateful for. 
In my immediate future:
  • Finish editing Chapter 5.
  • Hot bubble bath.
  • People magazine! 
  • Elevate feet, collapse into sweet hot oblivion.
Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s. BLISS.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tsk. [Updated for clarity!] [And updated again with more "Tsk!"]

My dearest darling friend Inspirational Kathy just wrote me the saddest note:
I am sorry/grateful that you are overworked, leading to a loss in volume of your blog. 
Kathy is missing me! The least I can do is write a little something-something.

This week's headline: My Doctor Is Not Happy with Me.

She "tsked" at my hurt knee and my non-care of it.

[NEW!] She "tsked" at my admission that, on occasion, I talk on my cellphone whilst driving.

Note: This is perfectly legal in Massachusetts! Also: She did not ask about my safe driving record, which might have been more relevant. She was pleased to hear that I always wear a seat belt. And also, that I don't smoke, though the two are possibly not related. Just, we're on the topic of good habits. Don't worry, we don't stay here long.

She "tsked" at my swollen feet and told me to eat less sodium.

She "tsked" at my weight gain and general lack of exercise.

She "tsked" LOUDLY at the three daily glasses of wine I've imbibed pretty much all summer.

[I blame Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. While I am forever true to Mr. Kendall Jackson and his divine chardonnay, sauv blanc is a summer drink. Oyster Bay goes down like water. It's smoooooooth.]
Note of clarity: Her objection, as stated to me, was the calories. She did not say, "Three glass is two too many, ya big lush!" She did not say, "Surely there are healthier ways to deal with all your stress or to reward yourself!" She did not say, "Your liver can only handle so much – you are heading for a breakdown!!" Those may well be fair statements, but that is not what she said.

I said that I don't routinely add salt to food but I do like salty foods; my feet have swollen in the summertime every year since I was first pregnant; I could stop eating salty foods tomorrow, but I guarantee that my feet will still swell on hot days; so what is the point of giving up a food I really love?

What I didn't say but thought later: A glass of white wine has 133 calories. A freaking STEAK has 679 calories! Guess what I eat exactly never??? Choices, lady!

Her response: "Well, you'll never know until you try."

And then we did my tests: Blood pressure - excellent! Thyroid - excellent! Cholesterol - excellent! (And my good cholesterol is beyond excellent! I am the poster girl for HDL!) Blood sugar - excellent!

In other words, my excess weight and lack of exercise are not hurting any part of my body except my poor beleaguered arthritic knees — and while I'm sure my weight isn't helping the situation, arthritis is an equal opportunity disorder: It afflicts the thin as well as the fat.

But whatever. People equate "thin" with "healthy," and we all want to be healthy, right?

I am sure that I will look back on this time in my life as the period when I waited way too long to have knee replacement surgery. I'm not afraid of the pain, I'm not afraid of the drudgery of rehab, I'm afraid of all the time it will take out of my life!! This is me:

How can I possibly do this???
I have to work! We have a college tuition to pay! Without my constant vigilance, our home would be  giant smoking crater!!

Except, wow, looking at that picture is actually rather enticing. I have been working like a crazygirl for a little too long now. Once I finish this math book I'm editing, my schedule opens up a little and I will have some breathing room, which will be excellent.

But now I have to get back to it. Math waits for no Lady!

Monday, August 1, 2016

News Flashes from Chez Chardonnay

Two pieces of good news:

  • The weather is PERFECT. I am so so so happy! And I'm getting my first good night's sleep in eons. I am Lady Van Winkle!!
  • And: I have ESP!!! 
  • Example 1: Brunie has been blogging about her Route 66 cross-country road trip, but her writing has slowed the past few days (I suspect she's been mellowing out with one of Marin County's favorite pastimes**); I feverishly check for new posts, to no avail. Yet on Thursday, I knew, I just KNEW there would be a new post, and there was!
  • Example 2: Mimosa has reached out to her two new college roommates via e-mail but they have been very slow to respond, which was making me anxious. But last night I suddenly thought, One of them wrote to her and I checked and she had! (I can access Mimosa's account for now, while we're still getting everything in place, but I suspect she will change the password soon, which is fine.)
I am not sure what to do with my new power, but I will try to use it only for good.
A piece of "could be good, could be bad" news:
  • My mom's surgery requires a full month of recovery, and her doctor told her to do it in Boston or Minnesota so that one of her kids could take care of her. Mateo and I quickly engaged in a little tug of war, as he had an uppity response to my assertion that Mom was not having farm surgery in a field in the Middle West.*** But I had the ultimate riposte: She requires a downstairs bedroom, which he does not have. So, yay! I win our sick mother.
A note: Yes, I have two brothers.

Mom will likely be here through September and we will fly back to Chico together, as I'd already planned to come see her over Columbus Day weekend. It's a little scary — and also, our assigned roles of Recovering Patient Mom and Caregiver Lady are the exact opposite of what we're both best at — but que sera sera. We will make it work.

(My brother Miguelito did assure Mom, via a phone call, that he would come to  Boston to help me as needed. I am taking a deep breath now and plan to hold it until this occurs . . . wait, is that a pig flying by my window?) ☺︎

A piece of not-great news:

  • I was washing the soles of my feet in the bathroom sink the other night, a position that requires me to look something like a stork, and it was still hot and I was sweaty and moist and I slipped while still in stork position and landed very badly on my right leg. My knee wasn't great already due to arthritis, and now it is very injured and very slow to heal, since I don't have time to rest, elevate, and ice it — I have SO MUCH WORK, which is good but also makes me anxious and edgy, and also requires me to sit with my knee bent and foot on the floor (yes, I just described "sitting" for you — what a full-service blog!), which is the worst position for healing but what can you do. It's good to have work.
What I look forward to celebrating:
  • My firstborn angel turns 19 this Friday! Our celebration actually starts the day before: lunch with Good Neighbor Anne and Angel-Daughter, who've been friends with Mimosa since the girls were 1, and then an evening of Improv with the whole family. On Friday, my girl and I have a full day of activities planned in Worcester, Mass., heart of the Commonwealth! (You have to say this last phrase with a thick Boston accent, so "heart" sounds like "hat." Also, Worcester is pronounced "WOO-stuh.") Full report to come!
But "losing" those two days means I need to cram even more into Monday–Wednesday, so I'd best get to it. And recite my mantra, oh, 63 thousand more times.

 ** It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out how to spell this word!! Passtime? Pasttime? Nothing looks right, not even the correct spelling. What a weird word. But thank goodness, knowing how to spell words correctly isn't required for my job or anything.

*** Minnesota friends, you know I am kidding. I love Minnesota!! But yes, I am being very Isobel-ish about this. When you need major surgery, you come to Boston, (Medical) Hub of the Universe!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wilting . . .


Boston is in the midst of a massive blinding heat wave with almost no end in sight.

Isolated Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
Partly Cloudy

Well, I guess that's not technically true; it looks like things cool down slightly after Tuesday. But it's only Saturday, we've been living through this for days, Wednesday feels very far away.

And if I could sit in front of a fan with my excellent library books and a cold drink, that would be one thing, but I have taken on almost more editing work than I can handle (college tuition looms! I am too scared to say no to anything!), PLUS I'm working offsite at my first temp job for four days.
(Aside: I LOVE this job!! It is so easy, and I have lots of down time, so I've been able to do a little editing. It's also air-conditioned! It also has great coffee!!!)
PLUS: Mimosa leaves for college in less than a month (26 days, to be precise), so it's time to get serious about getting her stuff together, PLUS her computer is acting up and neither Husband nor I can figure out what's going on. Our best faint hope is something called a "swelling battery" (and who isn't swelling in this heat? My feet look like small squishy pink pumpkins. All this editing = lots of sitting, which is no good for my circulation, especially in a heat wave), which we will attempt to replace today.

PLUS: Li'l Martini leaves for camp tomorrow, so we've got to get him ready as well — and oh yes, we have a houseguest at present! A friend of one my bridesmaids is in town, so we are putting her up for four nights. Easy-peasy, she's a delightful guest, I've seen her all of 10 minutes so far, but it's just one more thing.
(Aside: Husband met her first, since I was temping, and texted me: "She's pretty cute!" "Calm down, tiger," I texted back.)
And, of course, it's Chore Day. I would put it off, except the house gets especially grubby during a heat wave (we have fruit flies EVERYWHERE and the rugs are matted with shedded cat hair. Oh, our lucky houseguest!).

And finally, Mom just found out that she needs open heart surgery — I am being pretty chill about this, but of course I am anxious. (Mommy! Mommy!)

Ai yi yi!!
Sadly, I think I need to face the fact that the demon rum is not my friend right now. As appealing as a frosty margarita sounds, I feel even more hot and swollen afterward. Perhaps I will embrace temperance.

At least until Wednesday.