Thursday, 23 December 2021

Body Over Mind

Last year at this time my husband was in the last stages of cancer, just two weeks from death. He was so ill he didn't know what day or month it was. He hadn't been expected to live that long, but his heart was young and strong, and it kept beating far beyond what the doctors had predicted.

All year I have dreaded this season. Normal days are bad enough. Special occasions are worse. Our Thanksgiving falls in October, and that was a hard, hard time - harder than I thought it would be, given that the previous Thanksgiving was a time when my husband was in treatment and was able to enjoy our usual special meal. Maybe that's precisely what made it hard this year. I don't know. All I really know is that I was laid low by memories and tough emotions for several weeks before and after that holiday.

Then for a couple of weeks, I felt enormously better, and thought to myself, maybe that was the peak period of grief for me. 

Then all the feelings came roaring back in November and have been with me ever since. I thought I'd be okay with a very scaled-back Christmas, and actually did most of my gift shopping early. I'd always done that alone anyway, as my husband was generally tied up with work.

But I've had feet of lead the last week. When I thought about wrapping gifts or decorating a tree, I couldn't do it. I had planned to bake as part of some gifts, but felt physically exhausted. Extra sleep didn't help. 

Last night, I forced myself to dig out the gift wrap and start, one gift at a time, to get the wrapping done. It was literally a process of telling myself each next step to do and willing my hands to do it. I cried more than once during the process.

And the baking isn't going to happen. I'm realizing I'm just not going to find the strength to do it. Instead, I'll be buying whatever I give. 

I would like to bake. I would like to decorate the tree. I would like to enjoy the food. I would have liked to do some crafts for the season.

How is it that our bodies know better than our minds how we are truly feeling?

Monday, 20 December 2021

How The Appointment Went . . . And Funnies

Formerly titled: "Update, or I Need To Get Better At Blog Titles". All my titles seem to be "Update".

Why do I find it so hard to encapsulate a blog post in a title? I have no idea. But I'm trying to improve.

This update is about my mom's geriatric doctor appointment, which took place about two weeks ago.

I was initially thrilled by the mere fact that we now have a written diagnosis: dementia - Alzheimer's type, moderate. The diagnosis is in her medical records and can be accessed by anyone in our health care system.

I was also thrilled that we made it to the appointment with no stalling or other difficult behaviors by my mom. In fact, she was also thrilled because she had a chance to talk and talk and talk - although she doesn't realize what was revealed to the doctor and his assistant by her talking.

In a pleasant surprise, I was given a chance to talk alone with the doctor, so I could be honest and thorough with my observations. It was a relief to be able to speak up and have someone listen.

As the glow of simply having gotten through the appointment with a diagnosis and a happy mother wears off, though, I find myself feeling frustrated and resigned again.

We are no closer to having home care services, such as dispensing of medications or help with meals, etc., because my mother must agree to accept such care, and she will not.

We are no closer to assisted living or nursing home arrangements, because in order to be put on a waiting list for either of these, one of two things needs to happen:

    Either: My mom agrees to go on the wait list. (Mom: Absolutely NOT!!)

    Or: Mom must be declared incapable of making her own decisions in order to have a substitute decision-maker (me or my brother) appointed who will agree to put her on the wait list. This declaration is normally done by the family doctor because it should be based on long-term knowledge of the patient in a professional capacity. Mom no longer has a family doctor. Luckily, we have two new doctors coming to our area in early 2022 but there are so many people looking for a doctor I don't know if Mom will get on with one of those or not. They are not even starting to take names until midway through January.

So I am anxious about that. And I'm anxious about the new Covid variant, omicron, which has turned up in a nearby town after graduation ceremonies and related parties, both sanctioned and unsanctioned, at which rules were not enforced or not in place to begin with. Cases of Covid have exploded across my province, and my mother and I are past the six-month waiting period to get a booster ... but I didn't jump on the booking of boosters right away and now it will be January before we can get our third shots. 

Mom can't remember to keep her hands away from her face, especially her eyes, and she can't remember that she can't remember, and gets upset at me if I suggest using hand sanitizer or washing with soap ("I always wash with soap!" she says, while I'm standing there watching her wash without soap). So I've had to invent a huge amount of work at my office that keeps me from taking her for groceries, and I feel bad about that because it's her only outing (she doesn't see the point of going for a drive just to get out) but I would feel worse if she caught this virus.

In the meantime, every day there is her reluctance to take her medications, refusal to allow me to help with anything like laundry or sweeping or meals, refusal to allow me to even help the neighbour clear away the snow ("he'll be insulted!"), and the endless, endless, endless repetition of questions and stories.

This is why memes and funnies are a big part of my mental health right now. They are a way to disassociate, even if it's just for a few moments, from the frustrations of things I cannot change in life.

Enjoy ... or at least escape your reality for a few moments. 

 





























I have so many questions.

































*****

Wishing you a good week, with low anxiety, no saucy vases or cheating cats, and pizza on your plate, not on the roof.



Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Blogging Troubles

I'm having trouble leaving comments on your blogs.

I'm not sure if it's my browser, or if it's Blogger, or if it's my operating system ... or something else completely. My computer expertise pretty much starts and ends with the ON/OFF switch.

I've restarted my computer, and was able to leave one comment, but with the next attempt I was foiled again.

I know I'm not the first (and won't be the last) to have this issue but what the heck, internet/blogging gods, please fix yourself because this is something I'm not equipped to deal with at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.

So if you don't hear from me for awhile, don't worry. I'm just quietly swearing sobbing in the corner. If the problem doesn't fix itself, I'll have to wait for my computer guru to give me some help. That would be my son, and he just visited me two days ago and wasn't planning to visit again until Christmas. It's going to be a mighty long ten days.

In the meantime, I'm able to post (although you may or may not be able to comment), so here are a few funnies to help us all tolerate the whims of the universe.




























 

Wishing you a week without any glitches or emergencies, computer or otherwise.



Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Update On All The Things

I feel like I've left several threads of posts hanging here recently. When I have a problem, I post. When the problem gets resolved, Here I am, gone, as they say in these parts. Maybe they say that in other parts, too; I don't know.

Anyway, today is the day I catch up.

Meredith the cat: She is still eating and doesn't seem to be in any discomfort. I asked the vet to clarify some things. The "calcified mass" she mentioned was further described as "a bony tumour". The only option for further diagnostics is to take Meredith to Prince Edward Island to the vet college there, for a CT scan, also known as a CAT scan. The irony of the name would be amusing if I wasn't so sad about Meredith's condition. The scan is expensive and wouldn't do anything except potentially help refine the diagnosis and see if the cancer has spread. Even if surgery was deemed possible, it would be expensive. Meredith is thirteen years old. She is happiest at home. The travel would be hard on her, with probably no benefit, according to the vet. I want to do what's best for her, so I am torn about whether I should be going ahead and requesting the scan. But "what's best" also includes not making her miserable. I am still trying to figure it all out.

The roof: The insurance company sent their contractor to have a look. Quick does not adequately describe the response. The contractor was calling me before the insurance guy had even hung up the phone, and was there the next morning to check the attic spaces for possible water damage and have a look at the shingles. We have two attic access points, one in the master bedroom closet and one in the garage. Both of these required quite a bit of work ahead of time to make room for a ladder so the contractor could get up through the ceilings. And of course, general tidying of the house was needed to make it look less like a meteor had crashed on it. The contractor's inspection was good news: no water damage inside, the shingles were not blown off entirely, just the tabs (so probably no danger of leaking before the repairs could be done), and the contractor agreed to do the work plus repair a piece of fascia for the cost of the insurance deductible, and do it within a week. (This means I will still be able to make a "first claim" in the future without my insurance rates going up.) We still had shingles here from when my husband replaced the roof about seven years ago, so there was no need to worry about mismatched shingles. Best of all, the contractor told me the roof had been well-laid (before he knew it was my husband who did it); the issue was with the type of shingles that were used. I was glad to hear this, as I had been wondering if the damage was due to my husband's roofing skills. It was really comforting to hear that his work was considered well done. Today was sunny and warm and the roofing guys showed up and had the work done in no time. A big thumbs up for the contractor, who was dealing with a whole lot of other claims from the same wind-and-rain-storm that damaged my roof. There really still is good customer service out there, in case you doubt it like I did.

My Mom: Tomorrow is the day we go to see the geriatric doctor. Mom's a bit suspicious about this appointment but I just keep telling her it's a follow up to the visit she had last summer from "the woman who took your blood pressure". She remembers that woman surprisingly well, given her memory problems. Mom's BP was low that day, despite repeated checks, and she feels it was not actually her blood pressure but that "the woman" didn't know what she was doing or maybe her equipment was faulty. There were actually other possible reasons for the low reading, including that it was a hot day and Mom could have been dehydrated. Her family doctor was supposed to follow up and arrange for a visiting nurse to do a series of readings. I was in touch with Mom's doctor about this but the checkups never materialized, and in the meantime the doctor closed his practice for other reasons. So I am also trying to sell Mom on tomorrow's appointment by telling her the geriatric doctor will review her medications and check her blood pressure, both of which are things she has wanted done but had no doctor to do them. (She won't let me take her pressure with our home machine, despite being told by the pharmacy staff - where she takes their readings as gospel - that she could buy a home machine herself.) Anyway, long story short (oh, is it too late for that?), I am worried about this doctor visit tomorrow for a dozen reasons, and hope it goes smoothly.

My grief: I think this needs a whole 'nother post at some point. The terrible grey seemed to be lifting for a few weeks, and then it came back with a vengeance. It's helpful to me to write about it, and I hope it also might be helpful for someone out there who has yet to go through the loss of their spouse or partner. I've learned so much about all kinds of things from people who were willing to share what they were feeling and going through. Yet there are so many things I've experienced after my husband's death that I wasn't prepared for. And I thought I was prepared.

*****

How about some funnies? Some days this is all that keeps me going.




 

























 

 


*****

How do YOU get through "those" days?



Sunday, 5 December 2021

I Didn't Mean To Be A Jerk

I spent the afternoon yesterday going through old books and papers from two boxes in our closet. 

They were unearthed when I had to move things out of the way for the roofing guy to access the attic to make sure there were no leaks from my damaged shingles.

The papers were from the 1990s, deeply personal and moving in the light of my husband's death this year. When I resurfaced, it felt like I had taken a trip back in time, and it was hard on my still-healing heart to have to return to the present.

It also made me later than I intended and it was time to take my mother's medications to her. I stopped at the grocery store first for a couple of items she needed, then made my visit to her.

After I left her home, I wanted to stop briefly at the Dollar Store to look for a few things. Then I decided to go to WalMart to get a card which I will need in the upcoming week. And, to be honest, to try to get my head out of the difficult space it was in before going home to an empty house.

I browsed the books and cards at WalMart for forty minutes, then went to the shampoo and soap section to make some selections.

It was when I picked up a bottle of pump soap to smell it that I realized I had forgotten to wear a mask. And although I usually have an extra in my jacket pocket, I had somehow taken it out and not replaced it, some time in the last week.

I was mortified. I am a firm believer in masks and any other health measures needed these days. I'm a rule-follower and expect others to be as well. 

Fortunately I was wearing a cotton scarf and I pulled that over my nose and mouth, made a beeline for the self-checkout and left the store.

I don't know if I wore my mask at the Dollar Store stop or not.

I know I wore it at the grocery store and at my mother's, because I remember adjusting it a few times. (The roofing guy didn't mask up when he came to my house, and at first I forgot as well, so I'm trying to be extra careful around my mother, just in case.)

I can't believe how occupied my mind was, to be completely unaware that I wasn't wearing a mask for at least forty minutes straight, and to be unable to recall if I was wearing one at the previous stop.

No one looked at me strangely. No one said anything. Luckily I was in a section of WalMart where there wasn't much traffic for the most part. But I do recall that when I stopped at the card section a young couple looked toward me and then left the area quickly. 

I wish I could go back and assure them I wasn't being a jerk, I was only missing the use of my brain at the time. And trying to distract myself so I wouldn't cry. Again.

Have you ever forgotten to wear your mask since they became required? If so, did anyone say anything to you? This has made me more sympathetic to anyone I might see in future who is not masked up. Maybe they'll just be having a brain glitch too.

 

Too late advice


 



Friday, 26 November 2021

The Roof And Other Things

We had a wind and rain storm a couple of days ago. Some parts of Nova Scotia received torrential rainfall in a short period of time. We had ample warning but that wasn't enough to save some roads from being washed out and some homes from being flooded. As in other regions, climate change is bringing our province unusual weather and damaged infrastructure and dwellings. To the east of us, the province of Newfoundland has also suffered.

On a personal level, I was lucky to avoid flooding, but I did lose a number of shingles to the wind. I've been trying to get in touch with a roofing company, with no luck so far. I imagine they are busy.

In the meantime, I had a "duh" moment when discussing the roof with my big brother. He advised me to contact my insurance company. Well, of course that's what any normal person would have thought of first. Why have insurance in the first place? Sometimes I wonder where I've parked my brain and if I'll ever remember how to get back to it.

My husband and I always had what we considered to be an efficient and effective division of labour in our household. He took care of things like house repairs, vehicle maintenance, and financial stuff. I took care of things like meals, housekeeping, and gift giving. It's not that we couldn't have done a lot of what the other person did; it's that we chose not to because of our individual strengths and because we each enjoyed the jobs we took on.

Now the gaps in my base of knowledge and experience are showing. 

Because my husband worked long hours at his job, at least I learned how to clean out a sink drain, unclog a toilet, shut off the water and electricity, maintain the air exchanger, paint a wall, mow the grass, and shovel snow. It's not much, but it's a start.

Did you ever have a point in your life where you suddenly realize you had gaping holes in your knowledge base for everyday life? Or have you always been an adult, even when you were a child?

 

 

 

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Kitty Update

Just checking in with an update on Meredith cat. If you missed the post describing her problem, go here

In addition to her trembling spells, she had also started drinking a lot and, not surprisingly, peeing a lot.

I was originally given a December 23 appointment for bloodwork but when her drinking/peeing increased last week, I called again and they fit her in the same day.

All of her bloodwork has come back fine: no diabetes, no liver or kidney problems, no thyroid issues. But her urine is very dilute and the vet is concerned about that.

So today she is having a full body x-ray to see if she might have a growth or tumour of some sort that is causing the issue. I had to take her in first thing this morning, and it could be afternoon before I get a call to retrieve her, as they have been very busy and told me they'd just be fitting her in around the other scheduled appointments as time becomes available.

I hate leaving my cats at the vet, although I know they get good care. I just feel so sorry for them, not able to be in their own familiar surroundings, and with all the other anxious pets adding to the noise and strangeness.

I do wonder, though, if waaaay inside Meredith's memory, she senses that she has been there before for some extended period of time - back before she came to live with us, when the vet had fixed her up after her accident and she spent time recuperating and waiting for a new home. I hope so, if it makes it easier on her.

Maybe I'm more anxious than she is. 

I'll update this post when I've spoken to the vet later today.

Update:  The news is not good - the x-ray showed a "calcified mass" in her chest, which is pushing her heart forward. There is nothing that can be done. As long as she is eating and seems comfortable, we will keep going forward. This is the heartbreaking part of having pets, but I try hard, very hard, to remember that giving them the best possible end-of-life care is a vital part of having a furry loved one. I don't know how long Meredith will have, but I'll try to make it the most comfortable time possible.

 



Sunday, 14 November 2021

Commenting in Blogger

You may notice the next time you leave a comment that I am now using the pop-up box for comments instead of the embedded comment box.

Some folks have been having a very hard time leaving comments and they find the pop-up box works better, so I'm giving it a try.

If you want to change yours, just go to the Dashboard of your blog, click on Settings, scroll down to Comments, click on Comment Location, then choose Popup Window.

And here are a few related memes, for your amusement.

 

 

"Popped" ... "Pop-up" ... Get it? (Yep, that's a pretty tenuous connection to the post, I know)


 

 

 


















Do you have any other tips to help commenters who are having difficulty commenting in Blogger?



Sunday, 7 November 2021

Catching Up

Hello, my people. It has been a while. I haven't been commenting much on your blogs, but I am still reading when I can. Your posts are a welcome distraction and I thank you for that. It's also nice to keep up with everyone's lives. This post is me trying to return some of that to you.

Work and work-related things have been keeping me busy. October is always a month of deadlines at my job. And recently two of my long-time fellow workers retired, so there were gifts, etc. to sort out and a supper to attend. It was a lovely evening, but it was also heart-wrenching because our workplace is very much a close-knit group of congenial people, like a second family for most or all of us, and I will miss working with these two people very much. It feels like two more losses in my world, certainly not on the same level as losing my husband, but not inconsequential either.

Home stuff has also been occupying my mind. So many things I was going to do in the spring, then in the summer, then in the fall before the snow comes . . . are still to be done. I have to figure out things like what snow tires I need, where to buy them, and take the vehicle to the garage to have them installed. Some yard work and cleanup has to be done now or it won't get done at all until next May. Fortunately our son is helping me with a lot of things and that helps to reduce the To Do list. But there are a few things that need done to the exterior of the house and I've been putting off calling to get it started. That will have to happen this coming week.

"Mom" stuff has been about the same as usual - a daily visit for medications, a weekly grocery trip, a few medical appointments, and extended conversations to try to explain things she doesn't understand and/or remember. Her ability to cope varies from day to day. For example, now that the weather is cooler and she has the furnace turned on, she is worrying about how much oil is in the tank. Two days ago she looked at the gauge and understood that it showed her tank over half full. Today she had no idea how to figure out the amount of oil remaining and repeatedly asked about it. Finally we went to her basement and I showed her the gauge and thought she understood. By the time we went back upstairs she had forgotten again. When she gets anxious about things, she tends to make poor decisions, then blame everyone else for both the problem and the results of her decisions, and then I have to fix it, so I like to try to avoid that if possible. But there's only so much I can do. Her appointment with the geriatric doctor isn't until December, and even if by some chance she is assessed as needing to go to a nursing home, there has been a shutdown of admissions to those due to insufficient staffing levels. So we will need to muddle along the way things are for a while yet.

I've also had Lucy cat to the vet for a checkup, required before the vet would approve a refill of a medication. The vet said her lungs sound better than they had, and advised me to cut back her pills gradually until she's at the lowest dose that will control her symptoms. One of the side effects of the medication is that she wants to eat more than usual. Reducing it should help to decrease her appetite. She is quite a bit heavier than she should be, because she gets aggressive when she wants food, and I don't want to be bitten again. (The first time required antibiotics.)

Meanwhile, also on my To Do list is to make a vet appointment for Meredith cat. She has occasional spells of trembling accompanied by a sort of stupor. I had her checked last spring, but the vet at that time didn't suggest blood work and I'd like to re-visit that question. We acquired Meredith after she had been hit by a car and taken by police to the vet for care. He wasn't sure he could even save her, but he did. Then no one claimed her, and we were looking for a companion to the other cat we had at the time. She has always had occasional twitching of her facial muscles and front paws, and both the current vet and I figure she had some neurological damage that is simply progressing with age. But I'd like to rule out other illnesses. I should have requested the blood work at the spring visit and I don't really remember why I didn't, but maybe I just wasn't thinking as clearly as I should have been.

One thing I have finally accomplished is to have our second vehicle overhauled and ready to pass on to our daughter. It took four months to get one small part for a critical repair. Before I could deliver the car to her, the Service Engine light came on. Luckily all it needed was an oil change, and within the coming week the car will at last be delivered to its new home.

I am somewhat worried that my other vehicle will break down and require parts that are not immediately available. Components for new cars and replacement parts for older cars are in short supply across North America. But I can't justify having two vehicles and the attendant costs. Also, our daughter and her family, who live in a rural area, could use the convenience that having a second vehicle would bring. Her husband often takes their two little boys out for errands and it will be good for her to have a way to do some things on her own while they are busy. So I'm glad this is happening soon.

*****

How about some funnies?

 


 





























This is not my Lucy, but it's the same facial expression. Also, she meows. Loudly, with a violent edge to it.



Maybe by my next post I can cross off more than "wake up".


So, how are YOU doing? What's new in your part of the planet?