Friday, July 4, 2014

62 Years

Today is my parent's 62 wedding anniversary.  It will be their last.

The frantic days of diagnosis and getting things in place are gone.  There really wasn't a window of time to get things in place before the folks got confused and forgetful, so I'm glad I did it.  They recognize and trust the people who come in to care for Dad.  It sounds like a team, but it's not.  It's a nurse once a week, a home health aide 3 times a week, and me daily for feeding and cleaning.  A neighbor's pastor comes over once a week to visit, and I appreciate that as well.

Daddy asked me a few weeks ago "How will this kill me" and I really didn't know what to say.  I said "You will sleep more and more and then one day you won't wake up."  He was quiet for a minute and said "that doesn't sound so bad."

The truth is, if he's lucky, he will starve to death before the cancer takes hold somewhere that would lead to a more unpleasant death.  So many ways to die.

I take his vital signs each day and watch him slowly waste away, his blood pressure and blood sugar fall.  When my stomach prolapsed a few years ago I was near death and didn't even realize it, and as I recall it wasn't unpleasant-but of course I didn't know I was dying.  Still, I can say for certain starving to death doesn't actually hurt, which is good to know.

I think we actually fear pain more than we fear death.  I know I do.  But years of looking after daddy, standing through crisis and staring down death and saying "go away" makes it all the more frustrating to not be able to do that any longer.  It's hard to give up.  It's hard knowing what will happen, but not knowing exactly when.  It's hard acting like I know exactly what I am doing because that seems to comfort Mom and Dad.

I miss my life.  I miss tournaments and training and caring about how fast my dogs run.  I still go to practice on Sundays with my pup-letting him get behind would only create more grief when the day comes I care about these things again.  I work the adults at home to keep them in shape, and we train silly tricks and such.  That really has nothing to do with caring about racing-I still do care very much about my dogs, who are working dogs and must work.

Actually I sat down and made the decision that that is the part of life my life I would keep throughout this.  A little anchor to find my way back when this was all done.  I think that is one of the ways dogs look out for US-reminding us that life goes on, the dog must be fed.

I worry about Mom-she really doesn't have that anchor.  Her husband of 62 years will die, she will move (her choice) and then what?  She faces as much unknown as Daddy does by dying.  A death of her life as she knows it.

But, today we will hang out and watch TV and just be together.  That's really all we have left to do.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tail Spin

This year has not turned out as planned, but then when do they ever?

Life is challenging right now.  I went for a routine eye check in  January and found out I had pretty significant cataracts in my left eye-when there were none in September.  I went back last week and while I already knew the left eye was worse, I found out the right eye was starting up too.  So, in a few months I'll get myself some bionic eyes.  It's not a big surgery and the eye doctor assures me it doesn't mean my body is rapidly deteriorating-it's just one of those sucky things that happens sometimes.  My cataracts are over achievers.

This was on Thursday.  The day before I learned my father has esophageal cancer, also an over achieving kind and there isn't likely much more time for him.  They are putting a feeding tube in on Tuesday, we are going all over town for boatloads of tests and on Friday we'll sit down with the oncologist and talk about what is best for my father, and for my mother.  Mother has had her own difficulties and is finding walking and daily living a struggle too.

I'm juggling work, which I have to do, Mother, who is frail and losing her husband, and my father who is losing his life.

I think a lot about lessons learned from Uncle John-who taught me how to do all of these end of life things.  I really didn't expect such a difficult final exam-but I'm going to give it my best shot.

I thought of telling John he had Parkinson's just as I was telling Daddy he has cancer.  It's both a horrible thing to have to do and such an honor, if you can call it that, to share that moment.  I'm trying to look at all of this as an honor.  I'm sure I got that concept from the Tibetan Book of the Dead or some place, but I like it and i'm going to use it..

My mind is kind of swirly right now-deep thoughts and then a silly notion will just surface.  I'm trying to stay focused when I need to, meditate when I can, and laugh as often as humanly possible.  Death is serious stuff, but you can't let it stop you from living.  My father was telling me about our neighbor who came over and when he heard the news he almost cried.  I blurted out "well your not dead yet" and we all giggled.  But it's true, he's not.  There are still things left to do.

I heard him say "I love your Mother" for the first time.  First time as in first time ever.  It's always been understood, but it seems now is the time to speak things.  So, I'll keep my ears and eyes open.  That was my vow to Uncle John, not to look away.  And I won't look away now either.

Of course, the fact that I'm slowly going blind may complicate things.  Oi VEY.  Is it whining to say sometimes it's hard to be me?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Bigger Picture is Snowy

I can't believe how bogged down I am in the day to day.  The bigger picture seems to elude me.  But, I will keep trying.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day

Snowing. Snowing. And more snow on the way Tuesday....and Thursday....and Friday. Ho hum. And my throat hurts again. Ok, time to pretend that I'm living in the north and I'm used to this and may, in fact like it. Yes. Well, I do like my BOGS, my paisley mucking boots, a lot. So I will get to wear them and and my feet will be warm and toast and there is that. I completed my 30 day journal and for February I am going to do a daily sketch in a sketchbook journal. Hopefully the sketch will speak for itself, and if I look back and can't remember then it probably wasn't worth remembering, I am not going to label it with anything but the date. My January theme of Reimagining things was pretty helpful in several situations. Did it change my life-well no, but that is usually something that happens in books and movies. For February I am going to remind myself to see the bigger picture. I am almost certain that I tend to ratchet down my vision to too many details and often lose a lot in tunnel vision. Blogger really hates my browser, I am going to have to do something about that.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Imagine breathing

I tried to reimagine this cold I've had for the past week into something else. I did decide I could reframe it as a much needed rest, however inability to breathe or sleep didn't allow for much actual rest. One thing age may have taught me is to not ignore an illness and just press on with your life. That works well in your 20's where it's possible to push past it. In your 50's you just push yourself into pneumonia. I did go the doctor on the second day, get a shot, some good sulfa drugs and some codeine laden cough syrup. Turns out I am allergic to the syrup but didn't discover it until my cough settled down enough for the OTC stuff to take over. I honestly have to confess-I was disappointed in myself for getting sick. I've been rocking the clean eating and I actually believed I'd be immune to all the crud going around. I know.....but I had that notion. I'm still eating clean and will just focus on how rapidly all the fruits and veggies will combine to rebuild my health. So, for re-imagination purposes, I am not recovering from a bad upper respiratory infection, I am doing an early spring cleaning of my lungs!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Re Imagine That

I couldn't wrap my head around a really good way to use Reimagine this month, so I came up with this....Whenever I am stressed about something I ask myself how I can reimagine it. I think it's a little bit like the old cognitive therapy shtick where you challenge your self defeating thoughts. But, it does seem t work. I usually think of some solution, or sometimes I just think I'll think about it later. Tonight I wanted sushi. I'm doing a weekday vegetarian diet, but on the weekends I eat a little meat or fish. (I got THAT idea from watching a TED lecture.) Back to the sushi. My budget does not afford weekly 20 dollar dinners and I had sushi last week. I KNOW I can't make sushi, but then I thought about reimagining something I had on hand. So, I took some nicely smoked salmon, topped it with a little sour cream, and then spread that on some nori (dried seaweed snacks.) It's not pretty rolled sushi, but it tastes delicious and that's what I wanted tonight, something in my stomach that tasted like sushi. When I'm at the store, considering a purchase, I ask myself if I have something else at home that would serve the same purpose. I'm pretty good at reimagining household stuff and rigging up dog training equipment from what I have on hand. I'm pretty sure making it all a game rather than a resolution or a task has helped me stay with it. I'm working on reimagining my hatred of grapefruit. I'm doing it not because I think grapefruit is essential, I'm just curious to see if I can really change my mind and tastebuds about something. So far the grapefruit is sitting on the cabinet and I've worked up to speaking to it in a pleasant tone of voice. Baby steps.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's been over a year since I've posted. Blogger has changed a bit. I considered starting a new blog, more focused and less free form. Instead, I think I'll just take this blog in a new direction. One of the themes of the season is renewal. I love new beginnings. I love them so much I'm afraid I begin new things all the time, often without finishing something else. I am easily seduced by possibilities. Possibilities are untainted by reality, hard work or sub par results. My mindset lately has been on incremental change. So, when my mind turned to New Year's resolutions I got the idea for a monthly resolution rather than something for the entire year. (Fear not, I have my year long list as well, but that is not for this.) Since I also have wanted to return to blogging I decided to combine the two. So, my focus for this blog for this year will be centered around the monthly theme. I'm not going to back myself into quota for posts or a format beyond that. For January, my theme is "Reimagine" In a few minute I'm going to hop on my exercise bike and ride a 5k. Why? Well, because my leg isn't up to a 5k running or walking at the moment, but I want to support a friend who has cancer and is running 5k with her husband since she can't go to a group run as she would like. She can go to the group, and I can't run more than 100 feet, but by reimagining what we want, we'll be able to do something that is life building and sustaining. Reimagination (apparently not a real word) is a powerful thing. It can turn a picture frame into a shelf, a bathtub into a planter, and it can turn what you can't do into something you can. I am exciting about exploring this idea this month.