Sunday, April 23, 2017

What's happening in April 2017

Been away.
That much is clear.

A change is coming, though, and I'd like to get back to blogging - mainly for my original purpose, that it will be " a stab in the gut of forgetfulness".  So much of life melts away and is forgotten. This week I had trouble remembering if Maggie, whom I LOVED, slept on my bed when she was healthy.  I don't think she did, I think she slept on a little blue pillow on the floor in my bedroom, but initially I just couldn't clearly remember where she slept.  So, anyway, here we go again with me writing down whatever daily things come to mind.  Not writing for an audience, I'm writing for the sheer fun of writing and to help me keep the little pieces of life that I want to keep.

This week Steve, Grace, and I will be moving to a new, slightly smaller house.  Also Parker (Grace's dog), Nudge, and Sokka (two cats) will be moving with us.  Right now this house is piled about with boxes, and all the shelves and drawers are empty.  It's been quite a job, and I am feeling the stress of having the MOVE plus all the unpacking looming over me.  However, I'm also abundantly thankful for the zillion blessings that are incumbant in this move.  Looking forward to : simplifying life, creating a lovely and peaceful homespace, living right in front of a giant forest that is conservation land owned by the town, having this gargantuan chore of packing and moving and then cleaning over.

Brief update, of a historical nature:

Steve is just finishing tax season and is fully into golf season.  He's now a member at two golf courses.  Last night we went to an opening-the-course event for members.  Great food, including lobster claws, shrimp, cheese, and a chocolate fountain.  Nice people.  And I danced, with two women that I don't know plus a couple of line dances.  The dj played Mustang Sally, so of course I couldn't just sit there in my chair like a bump on a log, could I?  No.

Molly and Rayne and Joi live two hours away in a shelter.  This is a constant source of stress for me, because Molly is depressed, hiding from what she needs to do, and doesn't answer my texts very often.  This is also a constant reason for me to lean on the Lord, choose to believe His promises, and seek my peace in Him.

Sophie and Ryan are doing well.  Sophie loves working at the Boys and Girls Club.  She got hired, after her year-long Americorps work, as the Cultural Arts Director.  The only sad thing for them is their dog, Bruno, died at 2 1/2 years old, due to stomach cancer.  THAT was a tough few months, and we all still miss Bruno.  They are trying to adopt a rescue dog now, and I got called just yesterday as a reference for them.

Grace is well, even better than she was a year ago.  She is engaged to Chase, who is a very nice young man. They are kind and loving to each other, and make my heart happy.  Grace has just this past week decided on a career choice that floats her boat enough to make her willing to pursue it.  She wants to be a Wildlife Rehabilitation Expert (or some such title, that means she would take care of injured wildlife.)  I'm happy that she has found something, and I think she'd be an excellent one of those.  She could try for an internship somewhere, or get her BS in Biology first.  She's still pondering those options, but at least she has a dream now.  She graduated from high school a year ago and up till now did not have enough interest in anything to be willing to study for it or fight for it.  I am enjoying her big dog, Parker, until she and Chase get married.  Steve is NOT enjoying Paker, and is counting the months until he moves out.

My mom is doing well.  She'll be 77 next week, and she still works part-time at Kohl's.  In fact, they love her at Kohl's so much that they call her in to work extra, and sometimes one of the managers will specifically ask that my mom be scheduled to work when it's an important job.  That's pretty cool.

Karate is great.  I got my fourth-degree black belt almost a year ago, and still love teaching and studying kenpo.  Over the past two years I've had some ups and downs due to arthritis in my right hip, but it's been definitely on the upswing over the past year.  Two things have changed:  1) I've learned not to do LOTS of kicks in a row, because that aggravates the arthritis and 2) I've started taking some excellent natural supplements (Plexus products) that reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and help me to be generally much more healthy and energetic.  So, that's all good, considering that I'm 54 years old.

Over and out, blogosphere.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sitting on the floor with Parker the dog, because he loves me, simply and completely. I love him the same. He is licking my face, and I am happy in this moment. Abiding in Christ moment by moment means that the joy of this moment is from Him. Thank You, God. ❤

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Heart-happy, December 20, 2015

Today, at 6 am, I am heart-happy.  I want to record it, to remember it.

Sokha the cat loves me, and sometimes sits with me while I eat breakfast.  He wants me to pet him. Some people would not welcome a cat at the breakfast table, but I'm here to say that it makes me happy.

Yesterday was a nice day through-and-through.  At the dojo we gave Shihan his Christmas present, which is a new white board.  On facebook I (kind of pompously, but sincerely) wrote " it is fitting that such a great teacher should have a shiny, new whiteboard to sometimes hold or demonstrate the sparks that are struck as he teaches."  He is a great teacher, and all of us in his dojo are thankful for that.   Also at the dojo the students blessed me with a gift and with beautiful flowers (which I really don't deserve but certainly do appreciate).  

Then, in the afternoon I brought the Adorables to visit my sister, my nieces, and my mother.  My niece, Jill, had bought some large gingerbread cookies and she invited Rayne and Joi over to decorate them with her.  We had so much fun, and the little girls did, too.  My sister, Lisa, is undergoing breast cancer treatment.  Right now she's in the early stages of her chemotherapy.  We hope and pray that she will be completely cured of the cancer, after all the dreadful treatment stages are over.  However, having a cancer diagnosis right out there, and knowing that she is going through a very rough time, definitely makes all the time we can spend together extra-special.  Having fun with Rayne and Joi blesses her, and her daughters, too.  Rayne and Joi offer laughter, distraction, and sunshine (when they are not offering frustration, insanity, and misery - none of which did they offer during our visit, happily.  Yesterday was sunshine.  Yay!)  

Best of all, today is the Christmas program at our church.  For the first time in forever Steve and I were not recruited to be in the Christmas play.  (I'm going to tease Melissa, the director, and ask her if it's because I'm getting too old. Is it time for that must-get-parts facelift?  Or is it because my agent stinks, and should I get a new agent? )  But seriously, I know (well, I think) she just showed mercy to us and let us off the hook due to this chaotic season in our home.  And, no matter why it happened, I am thrilled to be able to dress up and go to church this morning to celebrate the Lord Jesus' birth as a viewer of the play, and a singer of the carols and a worshipper along with all the others.  Even more best of all, Grace and Chase (Grace's boyfriend of two years) are coming with us!  Grace thinks our church is boring (I know, I know, a pox on her, but she's young:  what can you do but love her anyway?)  so she hasn't been there with us in a long time.  Sometimes she goes to another church, but often she doesn't go.  And Chase has never visited our church, so I'm super-happy that he will be there with us today, for Christmas.  All of this is, of course, if the Lord wills.  (Dear Lord, please let it come to pass that Grace and Chase are go to church with Steve and I today, and bring you honor and glory.  Please touch their hearts and fill everyone in the church with the sense of your Presence and the awareness of the perfect Gift that You gave us in Jesus. Amen.)  

And, so, I am happy today.  And thankful.  And hopeful.  And looking forward to being in the house of the Lord with His people, all of whom share the love of Christ.  Merry Christmas, indeed!   

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Maggie

Maggie, my beautiful little white dog who loved me with all of her being, died on October 12, 2015.  It was so tough, because she'd been going downhill for over a year now, but that is often what old age is, right?  I believe that the start and end of person's life should be left in the Lord's hands.  He has plans for each of us, and great good can come out of a person's life even when there seems to be not much going on.  So, when Maggie started to become less and less active, to poop and pee in the house a lot, to no longer want to take walks, and just to obviously be shutting down, I grappled with the question of putting her to sleep.  Is it moral?  Would it be right for me to do that? She's a dog, I know, but she was alive, and I loved her. God made her.   I really wanted her to just pass away, peacefully, in her sleep.  I wanted that for her, and for me.  About six months ago she was put on medication for her kidneys, which were not working as they should be.  And she continued to sleep a lot, poop and pee in the house, bark at weird hours of the night, and just be a sweet, loving, elderly dog.  I was happy to have her in my life, and wanted to honor her life by allowing her a natural end.

Instead, in mid October,  she had a couple of days of pain, of not eating, and of sickness.  I took her to the vet, let the vet do her battery of expensive tests only to tell me what I really already knew:  Maggie's kidneys were failing.  In addition, she had some severe intestinal distress that was causing a lot of pain.  Then the vet said that there was medicine Maggie could take that would help the intestinal problem.  Nothing would help the kidneys, long-term, although medicine might or might not help add a few more days, weeks, or months for Maggie.  And of course, on top of the $700 of tests we'd just paid for, the new (uncertain) treatment plan would run well over $1000 that very day, plus untold more in the future.

My choice would have been to pay the money, keep her comfortable, and allow her end to come naturally.  My husband's choice was to stop the flow of money, put an end to the messing in the house, and have the vet give her the overdose that would end her life.  I understood him, rationally.  I respect him, maritally.  And I love him enough to see that this sweet, elderly dog was adding a lot of stress in his life.  I had to choose Steve over Maggie, Steve over me, Steve over my heart.  Also, rationally, I knew that the vet might be giving us false hope.  We might go through very expensive procedures and Maggie might die within a week anyway.  That is exactly what happened to Winnie, our cat, and that might be what was going to happen with Maggie, too.

Anyway, I made the decision to have the vet euthanize Maggie that day.  I was alone with Maggie.  I was holding her, loving her, talking to her, and crying.  She was 13 years old, and had been a wonderful blessing to me and the girls. She was a large part of my heart, and I was choosing to stop her little, old, doggy heart that day.  It was awful.  The decision was made in part because she was in pain and she had no chance for a full recovery.  The pain would definitely return, and only the Lord knows how soon that would be.  It might even continue on a level that was low enough so that I'd never know:  she would just sleep away her days, hurting and not complaining (because that's the kind of dog she was).  The decision was also made, in part, because it was the only way I could honor my husband.  It was the only way I could help reduce one part of the gigantic mass of stress that my husband constantly felt.  He was stressed about work, stressed about family issues, and stressed about Maggie.  He was stressed so much that he was in a "simmer, simmer, simmer, explode" mode, and it was not a good way to live.

I held her as she relaxed into the medicine and into death.  I carried her home and buried her in the back yard, in my secret garden.  I still talk to her there, sometimes.  I still expect to go see her first, when I come home.  I miss her little, warm, furry self  and her sweet brown eyes very much.  I am also relieved not to be woken up in the night by her barking, and not to have the constant pressure of cleaning up her messes before Steve would see them.  I am very glad, for her sake, that she is not living in pain.

Maggie Rose was a wonderful dog.  I will love her always, and I will always be thankful for the total love that she gave me.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Me to God:

"Dear Lord, I did not exercise today, BECAUSE I was in a car a lot of the day.  I went with Grace to her doctor's appointment (she drove, I sat) and then to the mall, because she wanted to go there.  Then, later, I picked up Molly and Joi, took Molly to her hairdresser's appointment, babysat Joi at my house, went back to get Molly, took both Molly and Joi back to their house, and then I drove home.  That's a lot of car time, and I did it all because I love those people, and I wanted to help them.  BUT, I could not exercise, so . . . I'm thinking and hoping that maybe you could allow me to miraculously lose three pounds overnight, even without the exercise.  Please give the matter Your consideration:  a trade-off - weight loss for kind helpfulness in lieu of exercise.  Thank You very much."


God, in His Supreme Heavenly Place, laughing to Himself (or possibly sharing the joke with others; I don't know exactly how God rolls in this regard):

 "Ha ha ha!  That Judy!  I do admire her inventiveness.  But seriously, does she really think I'm going to give her a 3 pound weight loss for sitting in a car all day.  No.  Ha ha ha!  And, if she is really serious about this weight loss, she probably should stop drinking that pure NH Maple Syrup that she loves to drink, straight from the jug.  She really should know that that habit is Not Helping Her Cause."  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letters of my past

In my bedroom closet there is a straw satchel, full of bundles of old letters.  Old . . . from 30 years ago.  Old . . . from when my friends and I used to write letters to each other because there was no such thing as texting or email.  Old . . . from when my friends and I were young.  We were so different than we are now, but at the core of each of us there is probably a lot that is the same.  There are also bundles of sweet, loving letters and cards from my mother, and from my husband, and from a few people that I have to push my brain to remember. 

They've been there all this time because I love the written word, I hoard the written word, and I treasure the written word.  Every time we've moved in those 30 years, apparently I just pack up this correspondence, unread, and bring it along for future reading.  My thinking was that some day, in my dotage, I'd be happy to have these poignant reminders of my youth, and would read them then. 

Well, now we come to the present, in which I am dancing along the edges of minimalism.  Ha ha ha - minimalists don't save satchels of unread letters!  A minimalist would either pitch them all, with clear and cold determination, figuring that if she'd gone the past 30 years without wanting to read them she will probably go another 30 years without wanting to read them OR she would get very techy and scan them all onto a minuscule thumb drive or cloud or something and then pitch the actual letters.  I've not danced that far into minimalism, though.  I can neither pitch nor scan then pitch them.  I will read them! 

I will read then now because a few of them can possibly be pitched, which will leave a smaller satchel to bring the next time I move.  I will read them now because I'm curious about what we wrote back then - what were we doing and thinking about?  I will read them now because I don't want to die soon and have my children read about what I was doing and thinking about back then uncensored by me!  ha ha ha!  Yes, I'm afraid that whatever those letters reveal about me might be embarrassing!  Although if I'm dead it will only be embarrassing to whichever daughter chooses to read the letters, if any do.  I should ask each of them:  "If I die, and you have to sort through my things, what are you likely to do with my old letters?"

And, thinking of my daughters, I wonder if they will have anything similar to save with the memories of their youth, when they are middle-aged, or old.  Now they text each other all the time, and texts aren't usually saved.  Before texting was so prevalent they did send emails, and instant messages, but those have been mainly deleted too, I think.  Grace said she does have some letters from friends, and that makes me happy. 

Also, if any of my friends become famous then these letters are historical gold!  So far that hasn't happened, but it could, it surely could.  After I read them all maybe I'll offer them back to each writer, in a nice packet, or maybe I'll just keep them in my straw satchel, to re-enjoy in my dotage. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Freaky, freaky Saturday

Friday at 1 pm I had my scheduled intravenous cortisone shot into the right groin area, to hopefully eradicate the pain of arthritis from my right hip, even temporarily.  The procedure went well, and I didn't feel any pain on leaving the hospital, just maybe a little airy-headed.  They told me that I should not do any strenuous activity that day, but could resume normal activities the next day.  They also gave me a pain log to fill out for the next 10 days, marking down my pain level on a scale of 0 to 9, 9 being the worst.  I thought mine would go from a lowly 2 to a non-existent 0 over the next 10 days. 

That evening I rested, and felt my pain level gradually increase from a 2, before the procedure, to a 4.  That surprised me, and the pain increased to a 5/9 during the night.  The next morning by 6 am it was riding at about a 4/9, but I had karate to teach, from 8 am to 11:30, so a hot shower, a couple of Naprosyn, my usual glucosamine chondroitin hit, and I was on my way.  And that's when the real freakiness began.

Now, usually, my arthritis causes referred pain that presents as a soreness in the hip/groin area, and sometimes pain in thigh and through the knee.  Usually I can move okay when it's painful, I just kind of ignore the pain.  On this day, by 8:15 am, my groin felt like I had a pulled muscle.  I couldn't move my leg quickly or easily without it hurting.  I really couldn't ignore this pain, and my leg really wouldn't cooperate.  So, I just used my words and told the students what to do, instead of also demonstrating things.  And the pain kept growing, all morning.  It spread from the groin right into my thigh so that I was limping, hobbling, and just standing in one place leaning on a kicking bag a lot.  For the first two classes I avoided getting down into our seiza (kneeling) position, because it would have hurt too much.  At the end of the 2nd class I did have to seiza, in order to put a newly earned orange belt on a student, and then I had to ask him to help me stand up.  For the next two classes I relied heavily on my voice and my sempais (helpers), which was fine.  But when it was time to leave I couldn't use my leg muscles to step my right leg into my car.  On a scale of 0 to 9 the pain was up to at least a 7 by now.  I had to sit on the car's seat and use my hands and arms to hoist my own right leg into the car, and it was a dead weight.  Thankfully, once seated, I could move my foot pretty easily back and forth from the gas to the brake pedal, but I drove very gingerly after that, I'll tell you. 

Because the MD had told me to resume normal activities today, I had promised to babysit 3-year-old Rayne this night, so her mom could go away on a mom get-together.  I didn't want to disappoint my daughter, but here I was rapidly losing my ability to walk.  I texted Grace, and she said she would help take care of Rayne.  I drove to Molly's apartment and asked her to bring Rayne down to the car, because I was not going to be able to climb her stairs.  Usually I dash up those stairs, and today I knew my right leg wouldn't bend or lift enough to get onto stair #1.  It was definitely a freaky, and somewhat scary awareness.  Why was my leg not working?  It even occurred to me that I might have to get home and then go to the ER, because this could surely not be a normal reaction to a cortisone injection.  So, Rayne and I headed home, and Grace brought me a cane and helped get us into the house.  I collapsed in a reclining chair, Grace brought ice and Naprosyn, my leg was elevated, and I really hoped that all those would work together to bring the leg back into more nearly normal behavior. 

They didn't!  It got worse, instead of better.  It quickly got so that I couldn't move my leg at all without it killing me.  When I had to get to the bathroom, it seemed impossible.  Sophie had come over to help by then, and she went and got a wheeled office chair.  They slid me onto the chair while I did Lamaze breathing to get through the intense pain that caused.  Getting to, and through, and from the bathroom took forever, and when I finally was done and landed on the couch, I decided to have very little to drink for the rest of the day. 

Yes, I called the doctor, very afraid of what I would hear.  (I HATE GOING TO EMERGENCY ROOMS.  THE WAITING IS INTERMINABLE,  THEY ARE USUALLY FREEZING, AND I AM USUALLY STARVING AND NEGLECTED AND BORED WHEN IN THEM.)  The answering service had the MD on call call me back, a doctor whom I'd never met.  When I told him I couldn't move my leg at all, and it was killing me, he asked, "Didn't they warn you about this?"  I said, warily, "No . . . ?"  And he said he was not at all concerned, because this is not an abnormal reaction at all.  He said that the cortisone, when it floods the hip area, can cause a greater than usual flare up of the arthritic pain.  My normal pain and inflammation has been magnified and multiplied by the large dose of cortisone.  What???  I asked if there is anything I could take besides Naprosyn, (yes, trolling for some kind of powerful pain medicine, I admit it), and he said that Benadryl sometimes helped counteract the effect of the cortisone.  (Fine.  I'll take Benadryl, since you won't give me anything else.  At least you gave me hope that I would not lose the use of my right leg forever.)  He also said that by the end of next week my leg should be back to normal or even better than normal.  HA!!!  I think I should have had all of this information BEFORE I scheduled this life-altering event, don't you?  Yes.  For sure. 

So, the rest of the day was spent cuddling Rayne, chugging Benadryl with tiny sips of water, and doing my Lamaze breathing.  My leg hurt so much, no matter what position it was in.  And I really couldn't move it all using my leg muscles, even to slide it a few centimeters across an ottoman.  It just would not respond to my brain.  My pain was up to an 8/9, with sudden bursts beyond that of spasms, tightening, or moments when I tried to turn it or move it and the pain flashed higher. 

Thankfully, Sophie, Grace, and Steve were all great about taking care of me, and Rayne.  And Rayne was a sweet little blessing, cuddling me and inching along with me when I did have to go to the bathroom again, this time using two canes to lean on and shuffle with, barely an inch at a time, sideways.  Sophie even slept over, to help take care of our nocturnal Maggie-dog and also me and Rayne.  It was quite a day, but at least I had hope that it would eventually pass.  And I had a burning anger at both of the doctors who treated me for not telling me this might happen.  "Resume normal activities" indeed!"  Ridiculous.  I was completely incapacitated Saturday, from about 1:00 pm until sometime in the night, when the Benadryl and the expired Tylenol with codeine that I took at 9 pm finally kicked in.  During the night the pain did gradually lessen, so it took me only half as long to shuffle to the bathroom as before.  Eventually I could move around with only one cane, and after a while resting my leg on the ottoman didn't hurt at all.  It still hurt when I tried to put weight on it, or to move it sideways, but at least there was a brightening in the outlook.  [Note about expired Tylenol with codeine:  yes, I keep it forever.  I had some from 15 years ago, and some from six years ago.  From this we know that a) I don't believe in medicine expiration dates, b) I like to be prepared for calamities, which is exactly what this day was, and c) I am in no danger of abusing prescription medication - it just sits on my shelf gathering dust.]

By the next morning my leg felt so much better!! I was so thankful, and so relieved, and yet still so ready to give my doctor a piercingly painful joint lock of the wrist while delivering a scathing piece of my mind.  How could he not have told me about this kind of possible reaction?  This was some of the worst pain I've ever felt, and it went on and on for hours.  I literally could not walk.  What if it had hit that badly while I was in charge of the dojo during the morning?  What if it had not eased up during the night, but had continued on like that for the next few days?  What about plans I'd made and people who depend on me?  What about honesty and trust between a physician and his patient?  Hmm, what about those things, Dr. I-Am-So-Mad-At-You Hip Specialist? 

So, there will be more to this story, for sure, after my four-week follow-up appointment/showdown.  (Did I tell you that when I met him the first time, and he learned that I teach karate, he laughingly asked if I could beat him up?  And I laughingly did not answer.  And he laughingly said, "No, you're too nice!"  Well, we all know there is a new answer to that question now, don't we?)  However, I rationally know he might tell me something that will dilute my rage, like that my reaction was extreme and unexpected, and if I ever go through this again he will load me up, pre-procedure, with giant amounts of pain killers.  Because yes, even though yesterday was freaky and painful and scary, I might do it again if I get 3 or more months of a right leg with no pain out of it.  And this time I'll be better prepared, and won't try to teach karate or host a granddaughter sleep-over the very next day.