“WHATEVER KILLS

ME FASTEST” is becoming my go-to phrase.

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Since I got paid last week, this week continues the monthly financial juggling as I try and cram in the necessary and “required” medical maintenance appointments, while also spending my limited “extra” money on things that I’d like to work on vs. medical appointments and related co-pays or Rx expenses.

A few weeks back, before my gardening obsession, I was on an incredible run of fishing and walking each evening.  Until the mosquitoes got to me.

One bite so messed up my right arm that, after two (2) weeks of babying it, the bite spot was still hard as a rock and looked like a boil or some other skin issue had joined the problem.

So, fast forward to now, and I finally have my (long delayed) skin check appointment, but don’t want to go because of our current heat wave.  When I was fully employed, I usually had skin checks every Oct or Nov, once the cooler weather settled in, because all my treated areas will be covered from the sun, and I can heal in peace.

I tend to skip skin checks in the heat of Summer because any area the doc chooses to treat will have to heal at a point when my skin will be hot and sweaty.

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In this case, I’ve not had a skin check since I stopped working five (5) years ago (I believe), when I was doing a follow-up to my 2013 shin skin cancer surgery.

As you can see from the chicken-skin pale shin, above, the doc did a fantastic job with my cancer removal and skin grafting surgery.  So, it’s not like I had a bad experience with anyone on their team.

But…  now living 55 miles South of the original office branch I used, it was time to find a new doc and I’ve been putting it off.  Nothing new needed attention, and I was procrastinating.

The houseguest, however, found a decent skin doctor with the same medical office locally, so it seemed like a good idea at the time to schedule a check up with her.  My arm was in the sun a lot, and the bug bite just wasn’t healing.

Today, freshly groomed, I’m looking at the remains of the bitten area, and noticing the tan lines (despite lotioning up with either Coppertone 15 SPF, or Avon Skin So Soft 30 SPF bug repellant moisturizing tanning lotion).

It’s clear the bug bitten area healed, but it’s still Summertime, so I’m not sure I want to risk any of my tender bits for treatment, if needed, necessitating me hiding from the sun while the treated area heals.

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So, now I have to negotiate to pay twice (now and later in the Fall) by putting off any actual care which might be needed to treat exposed skin.  I’d like to skip it, but wiser heads prevail over my tendency to scrimp.

Clearly, the dermo visit won’t be wasted, however, since I’m already gearing up to deal with the endocrinologist on Thursday for the diabetes-related side effects from the latest medication that particular doc has prescribed,  and marshaling my arguments for both the endo doc AND the liver doc about my quality of life choices regarding their repeated wish to send me to the nutritionist, or (my pet peeve for an elective surgery choice), have weight reduction surgery:

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I try to be a decent patient and listen to what the experts have to say, however, I’ve been trapped in this refurbished body for almost sixty (60) years at this point.  I have gone through all the necessary effort to be as healthy as I can be given my birth defects and ongoing medical complications.  Some days, however, “Whatever kills me fastest” is a very appealing response to medical care situations.

*** UPDATE ***

While the new doc agreed with most of my requests, she found a spot of skin cancer on my cheek.  So, that spot was treated and now I have to keep it out if the sun while it heals.

The most concerning issue, though, is that she found a raised pearl of skin on the calf (back side of the shin where the skin cancer was removed), and since it had veins feeding it, it’s likely to be cancerous.  Will await the results of the biopsy with the hope that it’s nothing and that she got it all so that I don’t have to go through another MOHS surgery.

While I agree with “Whatever kills me fastest” in theory, I don’t want to have to deal with another skin surgery…  hoping it comes back negative or benign.

Stupidity + COPD

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Did I tell you I’ve been audited by my former employer’s supplemental salary / disability insurance company three (3) times so far in the last year?

Basically, their argument is that I’m faking my breathing difficulties, and need to get off my lazy butt and go back to work.

Their latest audit claimed I was overpaid by $15 a month for four (4) years, and they have me jumping through hoops trying to prove I’m not a goldbricker and that I’m not a conniver; not a thief.

It doesn’t matter that I begged for work accommodations before going out on disability.  It doesn’t matter that I cannot sustain any kind of timely effort to do the job I was good at doing.  It doesn’t matter that I worked for forty-two (42) years and, despite trying to persevere to the point of three (3) car accidents, would have kept on working if we could have found a way.  Nope.  All that matters is that they are treating my disability as if it were a back injury, vs. a breathing issue, and so long as I’m not dead yet, then I must be exaggerating my disability.

I tell you all that to tell you this:  I’m obsessed.  I started with a stock tank for the $1 worth of goldfish (10 fish for $1).  I got the tank in place.  The pavers.  The electric filter (because I haven’t found what I want as a solar filter, yet).  This is what gave me the idea that started this adventure, way back in January, when I added 10 goldfish to a blue plastic kiddie pool to see if they would survive:

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So, I’ve got my version of the water garden / fish pond started:

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and I’m focusing on the overall appearance of the garden after dark by adding solar lighting to the pond.

Now that I have the pond situated, I can work on the terraced garden area for the iris bulbs which are due any time.

Following the rough outline of the terraced wall at the start of this blog, I’ve been buying and loading up my trunk with pavers (21 pounds per individual paver), and will plan to stack them in front of the pond at 7 pavers high for approximately 3 feet across and 3 feet deep, then 5 pavers high at 2-1/2 to 3 feet deep, then a final section of 3 pavers high.

Once I get the outline of the terraced retaining wall figured out and stacked, then it will be time to move the dirt into the area to be able to prep it for planting.

It’s an ambitious project, but I have nothing on my hands but time.  And, I can do anything with enough naps !  The boogie man in the picture, though, is that the insurance company wants me to sit and rot until I die.  That is so NOT me.  Not only will I do what you told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t, but I will do it and take pictures !

It’s that aspect which makes my ERISA lawyer insane about me being too active.  The insurance company for my old employer has begun clawing back my benefits by $15 a month.  Petty, but that irritant is such a prod to my temper !  The lawyer provided a California rule which prevents then from clawing back four (4) years worth of benefits, but it doesn’t stop them from taking away the money moving forward unless or until I can prove I didn’t  “hide” income.   👀

So, being frustrated, I need something to do to work off my excess frustration and anxiety in order to remain healthy.  Me being me, and filled with my best health at present (all things considered) in the Summer months, I did two (2) purchases of pavers today, approximately 30 pavers or 500 pounds worth of weight in the hatchback of the car (if my math is right), and now I’ll spend all day unloading them, tomorrow.

My breathing was rough tonight when I was stacking the pavers into the shopping cart, and later moving them from the cart to the car.  Hopefully, without having to wear a face mask, it will be easier to get them all out of the car and laid out in the pattern I desire.

It may be stupid to do such a physical project with COPD, but with any luck the success of that project will motivate me to get the deck and driveway cleared out of the junk that needs to be trashed or donated.

I refuse to be cowed, as I’m handicapped and not dead yet.  With no time limit, I can still do some things, even if I can’t go eight (8) hours without a nap, and even if I can’t do physical labor without lots of breaks.  Yes, I have difficulty breathing.  Yes, I’m a crankypants.  But, if I can safely work off my irritation though exercise and not pharmaceuticals, then that will always be my first choice.

Handicapped and disabled people can do a lot, especially when motivated to try.  I very much resent anyone and any thought process that demands I lie in bed like a fading Camille.

Drama Queen

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We’ve had two (2) weeks of drama involving Las Vegas Auntie and her passive / aggressive wish to die.  Or, suck the life out of everyone around her.

A long time ago, I was in charge of Auntie’s affairs.

When my Mom, her sister, became more ill as her COPD progressed, she turned her sister over to my monitoring / long distance care.

Knowing she had mental health issues and was regularly suicidal, I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to step in for Mom.  The year was 1998.  Mom didn’t pass until 2005, so we had many years of tag teaming Auntie’s choices while trying to keep the stress from damaging Mom’s ability to stay healthy herself.

I’ve been through at least five (5) suicide attempts with Auntie.  By 2010, after insisting she get mental health care while living with me, she was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, she was self-aware enough to recognize her own suicidal tendencies, or she just didn’t want to have to help with moving to the new apartment she picked for us to live in, so she checked herself in for a 72-hour hold during her daily mental health sessions.

In between supervising the movers and cleaning out our old apartment, plus holding down a very busy job, I visited her every night for a game of Scrabble to help her get through the 72-hour hold.  It was the most peaceful Thanksgiving I’ve ever had with family, even though I could see the call for help was perfectly timed for me to do all the grunt work for her choice.

Whatever was going on, and regardless of the suspicious timing for ducking responsibilities, I was hopeful that this would be a fresh start.

Nope.  We went to her home in FL to empty the house and put it up for sale over Christmas through New Years, and brought her two (2) previously neglected dogs back with us.  The loss of her home, even though she made the decision to sell it herself, caused an identity breakdown.  Even though she’d already been living with me for six (6) months prior to making the decision.  Auntie could not rationalize that she wasn’t living in a mini mansion on a bird sanctuary with our new apartment, and it got so bad that the day program called me in to inform me she was being terminated from the day program as her mental health challenges were not resolvable with their level of intervention.

Seriously?  They couldn’t tell us this before we moved her to CA permanently?

So, I tell you all that to tell you this:  some people are just miserable, and only enjoy themselves if they have someone to fight with in their lives.

Since that person is not me, our relationship deteriorated quickly once we returned from FL.  At that point, she’d had all her requests met, and unhappy with her new, smooth, path, she took to her bed 24×7, leaving me to add dog walking of her neglected pups into my already-busy schedule.  In full blown temper tantrum mode with dissatisfaction over her then-current life, Auntie was determined to provoke a reaction, and I wasn’t playing that game.

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Auntie called Adult Protective Services on me, since the Geriatric Care Manager and I were insisting she get out of bed and keep active, even if it was only walking her own dogs.  Instead, she took to her bed (my bed, actually), allowing the dogs to poop and pee all over the living room and bedroom.  And my furniture.  And my bed.  All before her possessions even arrived from FL.

It was a crazy time, but she solved the stalemate by running away to Las Vegas.  She bought a new house in a gated community with the help of the friend who brought her to Las Vegas, and within six (6) short months, a friendship of over thirty (30) years was ruined because the friend realized that Auntie’s mental health and manipulation issues were more than she was prepared to handle.

Since that time, almost ten (10) years have passed.  Auntie has chewed through home help in record numbers, hiring folks to help solve her particular needs or problems, and then making them her friends, and slowly reducing their pay (because friends help you out; friends don’t get paid for their help) until the friendship is exhausted by her manipulations.

So, I tell you all that to tell you this…  the 85 year old Realtor who sold Auntie three (3) different houses is the only “friend” she has left.  In less than ten (10) years, Auntie’s had her identity stolen twice and blown through all – or most – of her money.  The Realtor’s once again calling me for help, even though Auntie’s paperwork designates her as the Power of Attorney and Executrix of her Estate and Auntie’s Healthcare Directive.

I tell you all that to tell you this… Auntie once again wants to die and is going out shopping, pretty much daily, in the hope she will get Covid-19.

Auntie landed in the hospital with pneumonia for the second time since April, and she didn’t die as she hoped she might.  While I agree that she is sick with pneumonia, though, I can also see her playing games via facebook, so she is ill – but not as helpless and incapacitated as she otherwise pretends to be.

They’ve moved her from the hospital into a transitional care rehab and nursing home where they can treat her pneumonia, and where visitors are not allowed.  (Phew !  That means a trip to Las Vegas is pointless right now).

The Realtor doesn’t want Auntie returning to her own home as she and the neighbors are exhausted caring for her craziness, as much as they clearly do care for her.  I’ve talked to the care manager (as much good as that will do me) to get Auntie assessed for self-neglect and failure to thrive.  The poor, neglected dogs are once again in the care of yet another caring neighbor, and I’m grateful I don’t “have” to go to Las Vegas, but…  it’s hard to get the intervention she so clearly needs via the phone, but especially when she’s bouncing from care manager to social worker to yet another care manager and no one is looking at the intervention and failure to thrive data.

There has got to be a better way to force people with mental impairments to accept that they cannot live alone due to their mental and physical frailty.  Until we reach that point, though, I just have to keep my own health in mind and stay away from the drama.

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Screwy Thinking

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I’ve hated my body all my life.  Too skinny.  Scarred.  Always ill.  Too fat.  Whatever, it took at least half my life to accept that this is the body I have, and to not want to apologize for being strong enough to survive, regardless of the cost to my physical appearance.

Other than not being able to run or have enough endurance to dance or sing or lift heavy items without risking illness, my body has always done enough of what I requested, enough so that I learned to ignore my challenges and dissatisfactions with my physical machine.

Being a fan of empirical thinking to reason out answers from observation when hands-on knowledge was missing, I’ve always listened to the voice in the back of my head which insisted my refurbished carcass was good enough.  Especially when I put on my “Survivor” hat and counted my blessings for all the stressors this tired old machine has been through:

– eye surgery

– three (3) chest repair surgeries

– bladder surgery

– four (4) shin surgeries to remove cancer

– ankle surgery (during 1st chest repair.  No idea why).

and on and on and on…

So, when I tell you that I have benign tumors in my abdomen, giving me a pot bellied / heavy beer drinker appearance, you’ll understand that I’ve gone from skin and bones skinny to pregnant-looking fat, and I have noticed very little difference in my quality of life.

Except…

When I was skinny I was sick all the time.  Since I’ve been over-weight and no longer height / weight appropriate, I’ve not been hospitalized for anything related to my birth defects that involves my ability to breathe.

Often, people with COPD experience massive and fast weight loss, along with an inability to put weight back on.

Often, weight loss signifies the beginning of the end for people with COPD.  Why is it that having excess weight is so bad for humans, and yet so many in the animal kingdom are heavy OR have pot bellies, or both, and we think they are cute, and their zookeeper biologists don’t put them on diets to change their appearance???  Like I said, I’m big on empirical analysis when evaluating my options and people’s belief systems…

I tell you all of this because I’m dealing with the Drama Queen, who was hospitalized with pneumonia for the second time since this Covid-19 shelter-in-place began in March 2020.   I love my Las Vegas Auntie, but the life or death extremely poor judgement and choices gets old, but even more so as she struggles with both COPD and dementia.

Especially when I’m struggling to deal with quality of life issues for myself and another older friend with dementia.

So many of us trying to live our best lives, despite our health conditions and poor prognoses, and Auntie is out playing in traffic, trying desperately to catch Covid-19 so that she can stop living a life that has no foreseeable future, but especially if she cannot live her life her way.

At any rate, with all this drama going on, I continue to lose weight.  I am now eating junk I had mostly given up, until the latest diabetes medication started messing with my need for hydration, and lots of it, as well as my need to consume sugar and carbs in an effort to NOT lose more weight.

Since first prescribed Jardiance in February, I have dropped from 200 lbs down to 177 as of this morning – 23 pounds – and I can’t keep my pants up !  I’m having coke slurpees, fudgy m&ms…  anything to try and slow down the weight loss and give me enough energy to keep moving every day.

As I write this blog, I’m drinking 18 ounces of milk and having 7 double-stuffed Oreos before bed.  That’s on top of having a plate of small pea beans for dinner (a great source of protein).  That combo, I hope, will work to maybe keep me steady at 177-179 vs. losing more weight.  And, it will ensure that I am *not* constipated for a second day… yet another side effect of the Jardiance.

At any rate, I tell you all that to tell you this; meeting with the endocrinologist in two (2) weeks, and I’m marshalling my arguments for stopping the Jardiance due to fear of the weight loss making my health unstable.  All while framing my counter arguments for NOT going on injectable insulin.

I’m really struggling with the fact that I believe in the right to die, don’t want to outlive my assets and my ability to live independently, and yet – if I just let the endocrinologist have her way – she may end up killing me due to weight loss impacting my ability to remain healthy despite the COPD.

As I struggle with the reality that I’m not wealthy and no one ever gets enough time, the back of my brain is whispering in my ear how easy it would be to forget my sincere belief that the weight keeps me healthy, and just let her kill me through loss of weight.

We’ve heard it throughout history.  A woman with a proper double chin from excess weight was a survivor,  she was padded against famine and disease due to her weight reserves, and it’s only been in the last hundred years or so that we reversed our thinking and began to see skinniness as desirable.

As I feel the excess skin in my legs and the muscles pulling taut, and I watch the now floppy chicken wings under my arms as the weight deserts me in my extremities first…  I just picture myself at 120 lbs or so, my belly still swollen from the benign tumors caused by my breathing medicine, and always cold / chilled to the bone, with no reserves to survive the next chest cold.

Like I said, my thinking is screwy, and we won’t know the outcome to whether it’s sensible or nonsense, until I take the risk and do what she says while staying on the Jardiance.

On the other hand, I’m loving the Coca Cola slurpees and junk food…  into every trial of my patience, there comes a blessing, LOL.

 

The Good Old Days

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With a nod to SparksFromACombustibleMind’s post, “Did You Ever?”, I’ll play along.

As Sparks noted in her post, her blogging friend, Jim, shared the above photo and posted the following list of things he’d enjoyed:

Jim’s list from Did you EVER experience (modified with my experiences in plain text vs. bold text):

  1. Drinking from the garden hose.
  2. Riding my bicycle all over town and with no helmet.
  3. Riding on of the city buses without any adult supervision (First, though, we were trained in “the buddy system” and map reading to learn the cost and routes from 8 years old onward, and only allowed to ride without adult supervision from 10 years old onward).
  4. Going to the drive-in movies (the only way for Mom and Dad to get out on hot Summer evenings for low cost fun, with no baby sitter waiting to be paid at the end of the night).
  5. Going to the park with my friends without worrying about drug needles or perverts.
  6. Nope – never played with mecurochrome.
  7. Going trick-or-treating with my friends and no parents and covering as many city blocks as we could before trick-or-treating was officially over.
  8. Having a “few” encounters with the Poh-leese, but no record of it.   We didn’t get in SERIOUS trouble.  True.  I got in trouble from 3 years old onward, and it’s all family stories of my naughtiness only.
  9. Woody Woodpecker cartoons and a Three Stooges short film before the feature movie at the matinee.
  10. Nuns in their penguin outfits.  (Raised Catholic, the Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore film, “A Change of Habit” was a mind-altering concept, and started me on the long road to women’s liberation).
  11. Having long hair was considered cool.
  12. The British Invasion.
  13. Getting hurt in a neighbor’s yard and no one was sued.
  14. Half the town knew Mom and her phone number and she knew what I did before I EVEN GOT HOME.
  15. Rotary phones.
  16. Record players.
  17. The Sunday funnies in the Sunday paper.
  18. Having a paper route.  (Never had a paper route, but I’d help my Big Brother with his on big news days like Sundays, Thanksgiving and snow days).
  19. Getting “do-overs” while playing baseball or whiffle ball with the neighbor kids.  (The boys were sexist and wouldn’t let us play with them, but our favorites were basketball and hockey vs. baseball or whiffleball).
  20. “STREET LIGHT!!!!”
  21. Yelling “CAR!”when playing in the street.
  22. Not getting caught walking underneath any of the bridges while walking the tracks as a shortcut to one of the nearby town centers.
  23. Not getting caught climbing up to or jumping off of the roofs of various buildings.
  24. Nope.  Never got caught by any kind of authorities doing what I shouldn’t.  The buddy system ensured we had good lookouts, LOL.
  25. Being glad that there is no actual official record of #24.
  26. Looking at all of the downtown store windows with their Christmas decorations.
  27. Having more aunts and uncles and cousins than you can count on your fingers and toes and all of them living in the same town.
  28. The annual summer family picnic.
  29. Nope.  Mom was big on not starting fights or hurting others, so I never threw snowballs at cars or innocent adults.  The neighborhood kids were fair game, though.
  30. Nope.  If the Fathers had to speak to me for any reason, my life for the next little bit would not have been worth living due to #14.
  31. Camping outside during the Summer because it was too hot in the house. (Nope.  Never allowed to camp outside, ever, until I reached adulthood and was responsible for my own medical bills).  Yes, in true Princess fashion, I’m a ridiculously fragile flower, LOL.
  32. Turning the garden hose on to my little sister (or my big brother) on a hot Summer day.
  33. Going to Mickey Dees for two hamburgers, fries, a regular Coke and getting change back for your dollar.
  34. Asking for a Coke to drink at a special diner.
  35. Being asked ‘What kinda tonic do you want?” after saying that I wanted a tonic to drink.
  36. Nope.  No physical discipline after I reached the age of 5, Mom’s threshold for being able to reason consequences, and I was only ever hit with a naked hand as my mom believed the discipliners could too easily go over the line into abuse if they didn’t share in feeling the sting of the punishment, too.
  37. Grandma calling all of us kidsa bunch of wild hooligans” for any level of noise or unladylike behavior, but especially indoors.
  38. Playing “Hide-n-Seek” and “Flashlight” in the dark.
  39. The original Hot Wheels.
  40. The JC Penny Christmas catalog
  41. Skinnydipping at Camp.
  42. Rowing the boat across the lake and back again to avoid having to do the dishes (this was a great get-out-of-jail card 3 times a day as there were no dishwashers in any of our homes until I became a teenager

Whatever it is that sticks with you from childhood that kids don’t do today, feel free to jump on board and post your own list.

Isolation

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I last took my elderly friend walking on March 12th, 2020.

The picture above is from the good old days, 2019 !, when I could pick out a couple of docent-lead walks each month, weather permitting, gather a friend or two, and join others to both explore the area with a nature-knowledgeable third party, and have fun.

My senior friend with dementia, isolated in her assisted living care facility, is fading faster than we would have hoped, mostly because of lack of stimulation and what she feels to be extreme isolation.

One of her friends is allowed to sign our friend out for walks in the neighborhood near where she lives, but none of the rest of us have been accorded that same courtesy.

As you may or may not know, I spent the first five (5) years of my life in and out of hospitals due to extreme illness or surgeries being required to try and repair my birth defects.  Having been subjugated to the best and worst personalities and restrictions in an institutional nursing care setting, I decided long ago that I did not want to spend my last days in any kind of care facility, counting the minutes and hours and days going by, warehoused and waiting to die.

I opted for the right to die at a young age, 14, choosing palliative care over further unsuccessful reparative surgeries.  All these years later, at almost 60 years old, I’ve not regretted that decision for a moment.

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In 1981, there was a pivotal (to me) but little-known film released that I later watched with my Mom.  (She hated me “wasting my hard-earned money” installing cable TV in the house in those long ago dark ages, LOL, but she loved HBO and the movie channels).  I watched this film with her, and our in-depth discussion afterward has remained with me all these years later.

The film was, “Whose Life is it Anyway”, discussing a tragic accident that robs a sculptor of his ability to follow his passion, trapping him in a body with zero movement from the shoulders down, trapping him in a body with full intellect and a persuasive tongue, but zero ability to execute his wishes if people refuse to listen and simply walk away, dismissing his right to live as he chose.

Having almost lost my freedom of movement and liberty, being threatened with being institutionalized at 6 and 7 years old, (see Therapy for that back story), I keenly understand his frustration with being refused what are seemingly reasonable requests, as others exercise control over every second of his existence.

So, it is with that context in mind that I revisit our Federal and State warehousing of our fragile elders, either physically or mentally, as I deal with the change in visitor and access rules for my friend and former boss, F, who is fading on the vine during the pandemic shelter-in-place.

One of her friends, P, the one who got our friend confined when everyone was away or otherwise busy, is allowed to visit F and take her for walks “In the neighborhood”.  The rest of us, who call multiple times a week and drop off care packages?  Nothing.  Crickets.  Only P seems to have the magic touch with the Assisted Living’s Director, and we’re not sure if it’s because she was involved in moving F in, or if she’s simply a more persuasive communicator.

Whatever it is that’s going on, the assisted living facility doesn’t seem to have eased the restrictions on its residents, or kept anyone up to date regarding WHEN she might be allowed more freedom of movement.  Since the groceries and treats I’ve been delivering for the last 3-4 months are suddenly not getting delivered in a timely manner, especially the 2 buck chuck (chardonnay) from Trader Joe’s, I put my foot down and sent an email to the Director of the facility asking for consideration to be allowed to take F for a walk, as well as an explanation as to why groceries I spent my hard earned money on aren’t being delivered.

If F isn’t allowed to leave the facility for routine doctor visits without incurring a 14-day in-room quarantine, and we are not aware of any over indulgence incidents or drunken tirades, I fail to see why her liberty should be further curtailed.

I am getting calls daily insisting I help her move out, or commenting that she wants to die if she cannot have any freedom of movement, and it’s just so unnecessarily sad !

Last night, I was reading an article on a woman who had to become a dishwasher at her husband’s care facility, becoming an employee who can return home to her own home each evening, as family and friends were not allowed in the facility due to the “risks” of Covid-19 exposure, yet employees had no such restrictions.

While I agree that desperation calls for creative solutions, I absolutely think this demonstrates just how crazy the rules are for loved ones with friends or family in a care facility.

I also found a recently-created facebook page or group, Caregivers for Compromise – Because Isolation Kills, Too! – that tells story after story of families being forced to bring their loved ones home in order to ease the risk of isolation on their vulnerable elder or disabled family member, and I submit that removing them from round-the-clock care isn’t the answer, either.

We’ll see what the Director says in response to my email.  For now, I have no better answers for my friend.

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Messy

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Thinking today was my last full day of doing what I wanted regarding house cleaning and repairs, I’m glad I washed the kitchen floor on Thursday, as the houseguest came home a day early.

The scaffolding / workbench was in the kitchen so that I could safely reach the cabinet over the stove  (I’d already tried it from the 3-step stepladder and couldn’t get the angle right to get the new hinge on safely),

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so the Vika wonder scaffolding was pulled in the house from the shed and worked marvelously.  It, plus the mini step stool and the 3-step stepladder were all in the tiny kitchen, and the stuff removed from their usual spots on the breakfast bar, left quite a mess to greet the returning houseguest.

The fan is still in the middle of the living room floor, too.  If the houseguest had returned tomorrow, as originally planned / hoped for, I might have managed to actually get the fan installed and wired.  “Might” have.

However, since it took me 2 weeks of fits and starts to get the fan dismantled and down while also tackling repairing the cabinet, I know my Mom was watching me and laughing her butt off as I dawdled and “thought” about what was need for each job, and then need 75 trips to the store for more tools or different tools, and then ran out of enough light to actually do the job, forcing me to wait for yet another day while I “thought” about the job some more, LOL.

I come from a long line of perfectionists AND messy procrastinators, and when you add in tiredness from the COPD draining my energy levels, it’s a wonder ANYTHING ever gets done, LOL.

But, I did what I could and tomorrow buying the pavers for the garden area is at the top of my list, as is cleaning the indoor fish tank and possibly moving the bala shark outdoors.  He’s getting too big for the indoor tank, and I just found out he can grow to 12-14 inches, so if he can tolerate the hot and cold weather extremes, and not attack the goldfish, out he goes…  Otherwise, I’m going to have to see if I can find him a new home with someone who has a 150 gallon tank.  Sheesh !  I did not know what I was getting when it was recommended by the store employee.

Since bala sharks are freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia and Thailand, I’m going to have to figure out how cold the water can get in Thailand before deciding what happens next.

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COPD Olympics

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I started this blog way back when to deal with the mind-altering reality I was faced with now that the COPD diagnosis was official, and I could no longer pretend to keep up with my work or home life needs.

Being able to rest when I needed, and learning to tackle household chores at my own pace has been quite a mental adjustment.

Under the “spoon” theory of not having enough energy to both take care of myself and take care of my general cleanliness responsibilities, daily tasks began to get reassigned.  Weekly tasks became every two weeks or monthly.  Monthly tasks became quarterly.  And so on and so on…  in order to ensure tasks which were important to me, I had to consider all indoor and outdoor responsibilities, and prioritize.  Yes, like the anal retentive control freak I am.

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Something as simple as washing my kitchen floor becomes an Olympic-level endurance event.

Rolling out of bed and skipping breakfast and my medications (because eating triggers instant tiredness, and I can’t eat and expect to get anything done), I get started.

10:00am – All the kitchen clutter needs to be moved out of the room, and the room needs to be swept.  Then, I need to sit down and rest.

11am, the bucket of water and scrubbie is ready.  I have sweatpants on to pad my knees (it’s been a lifetime since I was a good Catholic girl, but I know that the only way to properly clean is on my hands and knees), and I throw down a drop cloth for extra knee padding.  I wash the first part of the floor, hitting it with straight alcohol and peppermint essential oil (one of the few scents that doesn’t mess with my breathing), and wiping it down with paper towels.  Then a final warm water rinse with the scrubbie, and more paper towels to dry the floor as I go to keep the cat from tracking through the water and making a fresh mess.  I get a quarter of the floor done, then it’s time for another break and a rest.

While it normally takes me 3-4 days to complete a 10×15 kitchen floor, I’m under pressure to get it done as it will be impossible to do once the houseguest returns at some point over the weekend.

1:30pm, I’m exhausted, but I have got to get the floor done.  Take my blood sugar reading while drinking gallons of water from all the sweating I’m doing trying to get the floor done, and decide I need to have something to eat and my meds, so that the side effects from the Theo Dur EX capsules don’t keep me up all night from its stimulant, but especially since I had enough of that drama from the lovelorn jay that has built its nest by the streetlight and spent the last 3 nights serenading me,  ALL.  NIGHT.  LONG.

So, time for decent eating.  One teriyaki chicken sandwich on a potato bun, plus mayo, and more water and I’m done.  Nap time is inevitable at this point.

3:30pm, I’m up again.  Still exhausted, but the floor is calling me.   I set myself a goal, and I will get it done.  Gum drops and water for energy.  Forget about Diabetes; I need energy! Fresh gloves.  Fresh, hot, rinse water.  Position the knee pad drop cloth, and another quarter panel of the floor is done.

4:30pm, time to sit for a bit and rest.  Maybe a little Judge Judy.  About half the floor is done at this point.  I’m tired, but I have to find energy.  Protein for dinner is best.  Heat up some leftover fillet mignon, make a little pink sauce (mayo and ketchup – A1 will just make me cough…).

6:45pm, I reheat dinner and get that down, and immediate exhaustion sets in.  More water.  Add some Mike and Ikes fruit candy for a much needed sugar rush.

7:15pm, back at work doing another quarter of the floor.  My arthritis in my wrist and back is acting up, but since I’m in pain most days anyway, I suck it up in the hope that I’ll bull my way through this project in one day.

8:30pm, time for another rest.  Sweating like crazy.  Guzzling water like a crazed person crossing a desert.  Grateful that no one can see my drunken stupor-like exhaustion.  I. WILL. GET. THIS. DONE.

9:30pm, the final quarter and home stretch. I have a chocolate chip cookie dough shooter from the bakery, and the sugar rush fills my empty energy reserves.  At least for a little bit.  I’m finally done by 10:30pm – 12 hours after I started – and Herself, the supervisor, is “inspecting” my work to ensure it’s up to her standards, LOL.

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From my perspective with 26% lung capacity, something as simple as cleaning my kitchen floor becomes an Olympic event.  In order to reassure myself that the house is clean before the houseguest returns, it was a must do task.

Today, I gave up the “spoon” for personal grooming.

Today, I gave up the “spoon” for socializing.

Today, I gave up the “spoon” for watering the garden (and the tomatoes need the water on this permitted watering day), but cleaning the floor has a small window of opportunity, so it comes down to choices.

Instead, I used 90% of today’s spoons for cleaning one small portion of my house.  The last 10% is wasted on my bedtime routine for putting Herself to bed and securing the premises as I head to bed, too.  Indoor fish fed.  Outdoor water garden / fish pond checked (the fresh air after dark was just what I needed as I wandered into the back yard to ensure everything was operating as intended).

Yes, I checked into fb off and on today.  It’s easy to do if I’m too tired to leave my chair.  Ditto with gathering my thoughts and writing a blog or two.

But, as hot and sweaty as I am, my only goal right now is to head to bed.  No dishes done.  No shower.  Just go to bed and put everything I didn’t get done today – in terms of picking up the mess and emptying the trash – on the list to do tomorrow.

Sometimes, that’s the best you can do.

 

 

Pieces

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“We’re always trying to find someone whose broken pieces fit our broken pieces” – Bruce Springsteen

While I can’t say I’m looking for anybody, in terms of friends and getting along with others, we all have baggage about the pieces of ourselves that need work.

I like listening to music as I clean.  Today’s insight is care of that great philosopher, Bruce Springsteen.  I’m adoring his “Western Stars” film and soundtrack.  With the houseguest away, I can listen to all the music I like, endlessly on repeat, and it’s nobody’s business if I do.  I’m procrastinating on working on the electrical and finishing the kitchen fan replacement, which became a lot more involved than I hoped it would be by the introduction of a fancy light control switch…

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So, I stopped and watched more youtube videos, trying to shore up my lack of experience with demonstrations of others’ prowess and nonchalance in dealing with a material – electricity – that can kill you if you don’t do it right.

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So, procrastinating… I got the water garden fish pond enlarged and built.

I got the kitchen cleaned, the floor scrubbed, and paint touched up.  Anything to avoid finishing the electrical…

But, I tell you all that to tell you this:  my house is just me and the cat.  It’s been that way for two weeks.  Two peaceful weeks without dark clouds of unhappiness and dissatisfaction hanging over the house.

The houseguest continues with her vacation, and I’m reveling in the peace and quiet, which will probably end by Sunday (I say “probably” because she wouldn’t be courteous and give me a return date.  She thinks such questions are controlling).

It’s sad that one person can be such a downer.  No matter how much we try, no matter how much we hope, we cannot fix that other person.  We can’t even hobble along together, because their broken pieces don’t work with your broken pieces.  With the house to myself since June 28th, I’m reveling in doing what I want when I want without having to worry my cleaning and repair efforts will upset the houseguest.

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Nobody’s evil.

Nobody’s wrong.

You just can’t get along because it takes two people to build harmony and peace, and your broken pieces just won’t sync.

The houseguest is #21 on the subsidized housing waitlist for the elderly and disabled.  Getting to #1 can’t come soon enough.  I *CAN* endure until she’s out of my home. I’ll just be doing a whole lot less of maintenance, and a whole lot more of fishing.  Away from the house.  Away from the storm cloud that is my houseguest.

 

 

Yes, I’m a wimp

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I’ve recently joined a facebook book club.  Normally, I can’t / won’t read best sellers when they are newly released.  Yes, I can be contrary that way.

They recommended 2 out of 3 books that I adored, and one I detested (and returned via Audible’s new hate it / return it program).

However, I’m a huge fan of artists and their inspiration.  And, a variety of the members have recommended a book that they adored, “The Passion of Artemisia”.

Now, here’s the sticker.  In researching the storyline to see if I might enjoy it, I find out that this book is based on little known but recovered history involving one of the rare female artists renowned as much as Michelangelo  or Caravaggio.  Born in 1590 or 1593, Artemisia was the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter.

But, this is where it gets crazy.

The apple of her father’s eye, Artemisia is trained in painting and is the first woman allowed to attend  art school, and to later become a member of the painter’s guild, Accademia di Arte Del Disegno in Florence, Italy.  However, at 17 (well past normal marriage age for that place and time), Artemisia catches the eye of her father’s quazi-business partner Agostino Tassi, who her father also hires to tutor Artemisia in his style of painting, and he rapes her.

There’s some rumors that Tassi and his friend / co-conspirator, Cosimo Quorli, was also involved.

Apparently, Tassi promised marriage so the sexual relations / rape go on for about 9 months, when Daddy Dearest suddenly realizes his daughter is no longer a virgin, that Tassi has zero intention of marrying Artemisia, thus besmirching the family honor.  So, Orazio presses charges of rape against both men.

During the 7 month trial, it came out that Tassi was planning to murder his wife, had engaged in adultery with his sister-in-law, and planned to rob the Gentileschi household of valuable artwork to claim as his own, etc., etc., etc.

All this drama sounds like a story that would fascinate, until… Wikipedia informs me that Artemisia had to give testimony in her rape trial while wearing thumbscrews, a torture device, to ensure she was telling the truth about her rape.

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No, it’s not enough that she is raped and has to put up with the predations of a married man as if SHE were the despised rapist.  She has to be tortured to ensure she’s telling the truth while giving testimony !

But, what made me really cringe was the fact that an ARTIST, a rare female artist, had her ability to make beautiful art also jeopardized by the use of thumbscrews on her precious and valuable hands.

I can’t even turn the cap on a water bottle with a wimpy paper cut, yet this artist can go on to create classical paintings after enduring thumbscrews !

Still haven’t decided if I’m going to try this particular book,

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or one or all of the other versions referenced, but if anyone knows anything about this artist and her stories, I’d love to hear what you thought about any of the versions of her story.

 

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