Monday 9 December 2019

Poetry Monday: Phones

It's Poetry Monday, and this week's topic is ....... PHONES .....

What do we all want to say about phones? And by "we" I mean Diane, MotherOwl, Mimi, Merry Mae, me . . . . . and YOU, my people! Everybody should have something to say about phones, I think :)

If you'd like to leave a poem in the comments, go right ahead. Or you can post on your own blog, and leave us a comment so we can find you. Use the topic, or choose another. It doesn't matter; it's all good. We're here to have fun and get our brains humming.


Shortly after I started my blog in 2016, I wrote about how I had acquired an aversion to the rumble of a diesel engine because it reminded me of all the ambulance trips my father took in the final years of his life. The stress I experienced with each trip stayed with me after my father's death, even though there was no longer a reason to have that reaction.

As that sound has come to bother me less with the passing of time, a new sound has taken its place: the ring of the telephone.

I've written recently about how my mom is suffering cognitive decline. She is not a spring chicken anymore; she will turn 90 in January. Physically, she is still healthy, but she gets anxious about her health easily. Numerous times I've taken her to the emergency room for a lengthy visit due to pains that she finds strange and scary, and that I can't reasonably explain away. Usually she is given a clean bill of health and sent home.

Those trips always start with a panicked phone call from her, telling me anything from "I have a pain" to "I don't feel right". The calls usually come in the evening, often after bedtime. One came at 3 a.m. One came late at night in the middle of a blinding snowstorm.

Last week's call at midnight was especially frightening. My mother said (and I could clearly hear) that she was having trouble breathing. It turned out Mom had a panic attack on top of a minor medical issue. She is fine now, and barely remembers it.

Most of the time now I can recognize how much of the issue is the actual pain and how much is the anxiety of being old and alone with the pain, and I can talk to her until her anxiety dissipates and I've gotten a clue as to what has caused the original discomfort.

But the stress of hearing that @#$% phone ringing at an hour when no one should be calling . . . well, it does my head in. I never know what is in store.

I find myself wanting to pick up the phone and hurl it into a concrete wall. Or take a big hammer to it.

It's not the phone's fault. It's not my mother's fault. It's nobody's fault. But dang it, I hate hearing that phone ring. I realize hate is a strong word. But it doesn't seem too strong for me to use here.


Alexander Graham Bell Probably Didn't Foresee This 

The shrill of the phone
The thud of my heart
The twist of my stomach
The rush of adrenaline
The flood of fear
The swirl of thoughts
What must be done?
How fast can I get there?
How serious is this new symptom?
How long until I am home again?
How much sleep will I lose?
How many more times can I do this?

I am thankful for easy communication
And I wish it had never been invented


See how much fun writing poetry can be?!

Sorry for the downer this week. It does feel better to have written about this, though - the healing power of setting it down in black and white is a real thing.

Here are some funnies to help us all see the other side of stress:


How about you -- does your phone stress you out or is it the Best Invention Ever?

Wishing you all a fine and dandy week :)

Next week's topic for Poetry Monday is ........TIME ....

Good luck! 


Elephant's Child said...

Love the funnies.
Phones which ring early or late DO stress me out. Big time. I am already paniching before I answer, and have been very, very grateful (more than once) to have a wrong number at midnight.
Ambulances are another trigger. They are necessary. I am so very grateful for the service. My mother made repeated trips in them, and my partner had a life saving trip in one (lights and sirens blaring).
And if I see or hear one my heart and my breathing speed up and often my eyes leak. Not rational, but very, very real.

Terra said...

I like your last photo of the stress relief kits. I empathize with you about the stress of phone calls since you receive so many that might(or might not) be health emergencies.

baili said...

Dear Jenny i can relate to these feelings completely

back in 2010 and 11 my both parents left the world one after one ,those were most difficult time for me as daughter
both were living with my younger sister since some years ,in their last year they both were dropped to me by sister but they did not like here like always they found weather harsh and hotter which was increasing their health issues instead helping

i remember how often were the phone ringing and my sisters complains about them were never ending ,i visited the other corner of the country few times just to make her feel that i was with her in this situation
there were hardly any times when she would not call and say what should i do or i am going to drop them in care center which people mostly find bad idea here still and try to avoid it
she left my father at brother's house in village where he broke his leg by falling and left this world in pain within month
i brought mom here twice and she did not stay with me ,it was not my fault ,what could i do to mild weather ?
she ran back to my sister and those phone call made my days hell again
just like you i could hear those rings after months passing of my parents and they still echo in my head
death is for all of us but the way it approached to my parents is not something i can ever forget
i really wish and pray that your mom can calm down and enjoy her days with gratitude
sending you hugs and lots of love my friend!

River said...

LOVE the stress relief kit :)
My phone doesn't stress me out, both my parents are already gone, so there's no worry about them anymore, but probably when/if my time comes to be alone and worried my daughter might feel like turning her phone off. That's many years away yet though.

dinthebeast said...

I once had to answer the phone at work for an hour while Tina was at an appointment, and five calls in I was like "What now?" when it would ring. I didn't say that to the customers, of course, but I sort of resented being shackled to the phone instead of being able to do things that were obvious progress in my task list.

Kind of reminds me that there are many different kinds of work that all need to be done to make a business function, and they are all more or less as important as one another.

I don't mind answering my phone, but the likelihood of me getting a stress-inducing call on it is fairly small.

Even so, I do answer the damn thing, which is more than I can say for some of my friends, who may have perfectly rational reasons not to answer theirs, but for some reason it still bugs me to see them ignore calls.

Good luck with your mom, I know that can be hard.

Doug, on the way to the mountains but not there yet

LL Cool Joe said...

I can relate. My mother used to phone here up to 16 times a day, and now she's in a home and unable to use a phone, or even know what one is, every time the phone rings in our house it turns my stomach over.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

My feelings about the phone are just as ambivalent as yours. Thank Heaven for swift and painfree communication, and "/&%¤ for distressinge calls in the night and telephone sellers.
The therapeutic use of Poetry Monday is a blessing! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hate the phone ringing. Mother, if you are you are dying or depressed, get ABI Brother to call me. He is brief and to the point. Doesn't matter who the call is from, it is invariably a bother.

Can I suggest you don't answer the phone out of hours? I am sure your mother knows the emergency phone number to call.

Yes, to write is a wonderful thing, whether it is a letter unsent or a blog post unpublished.

I enjoyed the kitty vids.

kylie said...

There are times my phone rings at an odd time and I worry about what the news is. There have been other times it rung and I missed the call and wondered what I missed, this is an issue when you are waiting for calls to bring clients.....and of course there have been the "can you come to the hospital" calls for clients: always exciting and nerve wracking.

All up, i like my phone.

Your poem sums up the fear and panic of those calls. I want to say I hope you wont have many more of them but that's not exactly sensitive either, is it?

Hang in there

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I know your pain, Jenny. Being on high alert for our children and parents
is something that we (mostly women) suffer through. The phone ringing in the middle of the night is an instant panic attack. I would like to think that I would never do that to my children, but I don’t know what my situation will be in the coming years or how I I’ll react to them. If I am anything like my sister, I will wait till morning, and be rushed to the hospital just in time.

Steve Reed said...

Oh, yeah. That's got to be a stressful situation. Is there no one else she can call? Does she have any kind of caretaker (aside from you)?

Steve Reed said...

Another thought about this -- is there an ask-a-nurse hotline in your area? The NHS runs a phone line where people can call and talk to a health professional about any symptoms they may be having. The nurse can then help the caller decide whether to seek out medical care. I don't know whether your mom's cognitive decline precludes her using this type of service, but maybe you could urge her to call for some professional advice if it's a late-night situation?

Red said...

I'm sorry that you are under stress right now. It's part of living with others but it's hard. It takes me a while to wake up and get oriented with those late calls.

PipeTobacco said...

Ok.... I have been trying to stir up the courage to do this for quite a while. I am going to take a stab at TRYING to write a poem now. But.... I cannot guarentee it may not make each and every one of you cringe in horror at its horrendousness. So, my apologies in advance. I am trying.... but poetry is something that has been beyond my understanding my whole life. So.... comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. I am also planning to publish it on my blog later this week (unless the comments here are a resounding "NO!!!!!!! It is TOO horrid!!!!!" So, here it is:

* * * *


Within the life of humans,
communication is key.

To live a life unfettered,
it is not of ONE, but WE.

The phone, it is a tool,
that we can use and can rule.

To allow communication,
and to even promote puns.

But, for some, the phone,
is not a tool, but a bone.

A bone of strife and contention,
when it has an Internet connection,

And is used instead to eliminate
communication with a nearby friend or mate.

In this way, it can be,
that a phone may help,

to communicate, or instead to obfuscate.

* * * *

My apologies,


jenny_o said...

I so sympathize, EC. The body reacts no matter what the brain says.

I've had those late-night wrong numbers too - and the relief afterward has been eye-opening.

jenny_o said...

I would happily put up with telemarketers and scammers if I could just not get any more emergency calls, Terra! They are my downfall.

jenny_o said...

That is so sad about your parents' end-of-life situations, baili. I'm sure your sister was stressed completely, but what people don't understand sometimes is that it is also stressful to be the family member who lives far away and is helpless to do anything to help out, like you were. I don't know which is worse, to be honest. Thank you for your wishes and hugs, which I return in full measure, dear friend.

jenny_o said...

You seem pretty self-sufficient and grounded, River, so I suspect your daughter has nothing to worry about in that respect.

The stress relief kits make me feel better just looking at them :)

jenny_o said...

You're so right about all the jobs that are necessary for smooth running of a business, Doug. And you're also right on the money about adults who ignore calls, and - worse - won't return them! We have a couple of those in our extended family, and it's both a worry and a frustration for the parents.

So your move got postponed? Will you be settled in before Christmas?

jenny_o said...

Like I said to EC - the body reacts even though the brain knows better. It's not hard to grasp the concept of PTSD when you've experienced something like this, is it? I hope in time your gut reaction will ease up.

jenny_o said...

It's a double-edged sword, that invention :)

I'm so glad you're enjoying Poetry Monday! It was Diane's idea to begin with, and I'm enjoying the benefits, too.

Elephant's Child said...

PipeTobacco: No apologies needed (or accepted). This is so very true. I worry that for too many the phone uses them, rather than the other way round.

jenny_o said...

I'm not sure Mom would or could remember the emergency number in the midst of her panic. Last week when I told her I was calling 911, she scolded herself and said she had forgotten about that and should have done that instead of calling me. Her mind is not great on a good day; on a bad day it's much worse. I'm sure the paramedics or the hospital would have called me in any case as I'm the designated next of kin. So the call would still have come to me eventually!

jenny_o said...

LOL - I knew what you meant, kylie :) Thank you.

The phone calls outside of "normal" hours are a worry when you have children, too - no matter how old they are, right? And as for the calls about a baby on the way, they are still startling no matter how exciting they are!

jenny_o said...

Oh dear, that sounds like a tragedy narrowly averted, Arleen. It is always such a worry, wondering whether one is actually in an emergency or whether it just feels that way, isn't it? One thing I've noticed in all the hours I've spent in the emergency room is that a lot of folks go there who don't have an emergency. In our province, at least, that's a result of not enough family doctors, or of too-long waits for appointments with their doctors. But it makes me feel better about deciding in favour of going to emerg when I'm not sure if we meet the definition.

messymimi said...

It's my kids that do it to me:

Mom, I have a flat tire (at 2am).
Mom, I just got into an accident (anytime, more than once).
Mom, I just got robbed (midnight).
Mom, I just had a seizure (11pm).

Yep, i hate the phone sometimes.

jenny_o said...

No, and no. Not at this point anyway. And even if she were to go to a nursing home at a future date, they call the family if the resident needs to go to the hospital. When my father was in a nursing home, I got similar calls; the difference was that it wasn't him calling me, it was the nursing home. And I knew he would be looked after until I could meet up with the ambulance at the hospital. But still stressful, and still a disruption of the schedule for an undetermined amount of time. My only sibling lives three and a half hours away, and Mom's friends are all as old as her - or older - and I don't see it as their job anyway.

jenny_o said...

I know I'm starting to sound like that person who complains and then doesn't take any advice (we all know that person!) but our experience with the nurse hotline is that they are extremely cautious and will send an ambulance for just about anything. I've called them a couple of times from my mom's place, and they have a set list of questions that bring them pretty quickly to "it should be checked out" whenever there is chest or back pain - which my mom frequently has. Two other factors that make me reluctant to direct my mom to call the hotline are, one, that I know my mother's health issues and over time have learned what something is likely to be - whether it's her arthritis, or heartburn, or a pulled muscle (because she does stuff like snow shovelling that she really shouldn't be doing, but won't listen to us) and, two, her ability to think rationally is worse when under stress.

When she gets panicky, quite often I can take her through the thought process of figuring out the underlying problem and finding a solution, but to a medical professional all they hear is "chest pain" (or "back pain" which is almost as likely to cause a trip to emerg as chest pain is).

It is what it is. The topic this week just begged for me to get it off my chest :D

jenny_o said...

Well, I'm a night owl, so often I'm still up and around when she calls, and it's STILL wrenching! It's even worse if you have to wake up and get oriented, as you say.

jenny_o said...

No apologies needed, PT - I really think you have the right idea, so - well done! Like anything else, practice will make it easier, but I applaud your first poem and believe you are doing far better than you feel you are. And I feel you have hit the head on the nail with the message in your poem - communication vs obfuscation is a very real problem with modern phones.

Thanks for taking the plunge and I hope you'll join us again! And I hope you get other feedback as well, as you have indicated you would appreciate having it.

jenny_o said...

Aha - I see Elephant's Child got ahead of me with her feedback :) I'm glad she replied as well.

jenny_o said...

Oh my, Mimi - those are some heart-stopping calls, too! I sympathize.

dinthebeast said...

We have to be gone by Wednesday at 6:00 AM, so we should definitely be settled in before Christmas.
The weather seems to be giving us a brief respite, so who knows? We might just make it.

-Doug, hoping for favorable road conditions

jenny_o said...

My fingers are crossed for good weather! Good luck with all the little things, too, but the weather is a big thing.

PipeTobacco said...


Thank you. Now that I see it, there are obvious things I could fix. But, I do thank you!!!

I also meant to offer my sympathy about the harsh stress you are experiencing as well.... but I rewrote what I submitted a few times and unfortunately the sympathy message was forgotten when I originally submitted.

jenny_o said...

No worries about that, PT - I've done the same :)

And somehow seeing something I've written, in printed form, allows me to see things I wouldn't otherwise, as well. It's like taking a picture of a room - you can often see things that you don't see just looking with the naked eye. Like clutter, for instance, in my case :D

Marie Smith said...

We have one daughter. I fear she will be caught between raising her three and worrying about aging parents too. I hear you, Jenny. Hugs!

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Marie - yet another incentive to look after our health as we age, isn't it? Although, like my mom, who always looked after herself, sometimes the mental damage can't be predicted or prevented . . .

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Sorry to hear about the trials and tribulations you have been dealing with in relation to your mother and her recurring health anxieties.

I considered writing a poem about phones but the phone rang and interrupted my creative flow.

e said...

The nicest thing about a phone is turning it off.

jenny_o said...

Ah well, it could be worse, YP.

Also, your suspiciously timed irony does not go unappreciated - haha

jenny_o said...

I look forward to having that luxury one day, e!

Joanne Noragon said...

I am so fortunate. I've reached the top of the pole; I'm the oldest sibling/parent in the tree. Now I must make one of them responsible for me. Sigh.

jenny_o said...

Or more than one! They can take turn about :)

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

PhOnEs!!! GaHhHhHhhh!!!!
*twitch* *twitch*
Better now...

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

I think this is brilliant, PT! And this is your first attempt? I see a bright future for you here!

Diane Henders said...

Aw, the Stress Relief Kits are adorable! It's too bad they won't work on your phone stress. I can only imagine how much of a love/hate relationship you must have with the phone. I wish you strength - sending good thoughts your way.

Janie Junebug said...

I'm sorry about your mom--sorry for her aches and pains and worries and sorry for the way they affect your life. When my mother was dying, I jumped every time the phone rang. I couldn't go to see her because we'd had a blizzard and the airports were closed. Driving from Maryland to Kansas was out of the question. It haunts me that I wasn't able to see her during those last days.

Love to my dear donkey,

jenny_o said...

Ha ha! Twitching right along with you, Diane :)

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Diane - and it's surprising how relaxing it is just to look at pictures of kittens. I actually use that as a way to de-stress, believe it or not :)

jenny_o said...

Oh, Janie - how sad about your situation with your mom when she was dying. That must have been so hard. There are a lot of things a person can overcome when necessary but beating nature isn't one of them. You did what you could and that is all anyone - especially a mom - would want. But it's still hard, right? Hugs for you, and take care of your own health.

Chickens Consigliere said...

Poor Donkey.I'm sorry you have to go through this and I completely get it. I have the same feeling about the phone. I still hate when it rings. So much so, I took out the land line and we only use our cell phones, which I refuse to answer unless I know the caller. I'm one of those texty people. Don't call me. Just text. It's a little anti-social, I know. Which is funny, working as I do in sales. I have to remind myself to call customers, not just email them. I love the younger ones-they'd rather be emailed anyways!

PipeTobacco said...

Diane: I thank you very much for your encouragement. I will keep trying.

Martha said...

Those phone calls can be stressful. And exhausting. My mother does that occasionally. I've discovered that most are panic attacks or fear triggered by health anxiety. Every doctor tells her there's nothing wrong but she's convinced there is.

jenny_o said...

I understand that completely - I'd much rather email but most of my friends prefer the phone and the younger ones in the family all text.

jenny_o said...

Our moms are twins, Martha :)

Seriously, it's a hard thing to deal with and I sympathize with you so much.

nothoughtsnoprayersnonothing said...

Reading your back posts about your parents. It is so much to go through and the previous comments certainly express my thoughts too.
Your story is what so many are going through. I appreciate your being able to write about it.

37paddington said...

Dear Jenny-o, I remember this so well. Sadly, when you no longer fear the ring of the phone you will wish for the days when you did. But yes, the adrenaline rush, the fear, God, it's hard.

Mr. Shife said...

I am glad you were able to get some relief by sharing with us. I hope it helps out the next time the phone rings. Take care.

PipeTobacco said...

Hmm. I did not see any other phone poems. Did I do it incorrectly by posting it in a message?


jenny_o said...

Yes, it's definitely not a unique experience for today's boomers to have parents still alive at that age!

jenny_o said...

I know what you're saying. I feel like I've lost a lot of my mother already, but when the phone no longer rings I'll have lost all of her.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Mr. S. I think it will, actually. Venting lets the built-up pressure off a bit :)

jenny_o said...

No, you did fine, PT - you can post here in a comment (message, as you call) OR you can post on your own blog, and leave a comment (message) on my blog that you have put your poem there. Folks can click on your name in your message to find your blog and comment there if they wish. Some readers post poems here just as you did, and some post on their own blogs.

The people whose names are underlined in the preamble at the top of my post put up poems every Monday, so they don't need to tell us that they've posted a poem. If you click on their name(s), you'll be taken directly to their blogs.

PipeTobacco said...

Ok! Thank you! I was worried. I will await the prompt for tomorrow and see if I can create something passable. :)


jenny_o said...

The prompt for this week is TIME. Diane will choose the prompt for next week and as soon as I see on her blog what it is, I will add it to the bottom of tomorrow's post :)

only slightly confused said...

I've been through the 'hate the phone' thing myself after 20 years of a 'high call frequency' job and then the aging and eventual deaths of my parents 'long distance'.
I just realized after reading your words that I have gotten over that panic when the phone rings at long last. Thank goodness. Hang in there. The phone will become hour friend again in time.

jenny_o said...

I just found your comment, Delores, sorry! It's good to know that eventually the panic will go away.