Healing, Happiness, and Promises Kept

It’s a beautiful fall Florida morning. It’s 75° outside, there is a nice stiff breeze blowing, and the sun is bright, at least for now.

I am so happy to be sitting outside this morning, sipping my 2nd cup of coffee, feeling the breeze lift the hair off my neck. I got my trees trimmed the other day. A young kid (about 25 maybe) knocked on my door and offered to trim my palms up into what they call the “hurricane” cut. This means they cut off all the dead stuff and sculpt it so the palm fronds are from 10 to 2 . I am particularly happy about this because the rats nest in the tops of unkept palm trees and jump onto the roof to get in the house. Now I know there are no nests up there, and no holes for them to get into in the roof, because I had all those blocked a few weeks ago. He also trimmed the banyan tree so it was not laying on the roof, and the neighbors live oak tree, which was also reaching out and laying on the roof and swept it off. He dragged all the brush to the street, into 2 huge piles, and cleaned up all the rest of the refuse from cutting. And he charged me $200 for all of it! My yard looks so much better with all that deadwood off of it.

Yesterday one of my good friends came over for the afternoon, and we sat outside enjoying the dry, breezy air with a few beers for her, and one glass of wine for me. I hadn’t seen her in months…6 or 7 months. Dan came over to see her too, because he really likes her too, and the three of us spent the afternoon laughing, basically. It felt good. There has not been enough laughter in our lives (Dan’s and mine). Dan brought crab cakes with him, and he and I had them for dinner, with remoulade sauce I made. So good. It’s our new favorite food. Even though I’ve had crab cakes many times, these, store made and frozen, are SO good.

Last night I decided to try not taking a hydrocodone. I only have 8 or 9 left, not enough to see me through until I go to the pain management dr. Instead, I took an Ambien, and a gabapentin (for nerve pain, but not narcotic). I struggled to get to sleep for probably a little over an hour. I kept thinking about something Dan had said, a suggestion that I was taking the hydrocodone more because I was afraid of that excruciating pain coming back, than that I really needed it. I thought, he’s probably right. And, the last few nights I’ve woken anyway with hip pain and had to go get an ice pack, even though I’d taken the opiate. So I thought, lets just try it.

I had a bad case of restless legs when I went to bed, which I think is a by-product of the nerves in my leg healing. I had quite a few hits off my vape, indica marijuana, which helps a ton with restless legs and helps me get to sleep. Finally I fell into a deep sleep for 7 or 8 hours. I guess I can use that protocol, Ambien and gabapentin, unless I am in pain when I go to bed. But yesterday was a good day, not much pain (maybe from all that laughing?). And I had nowhere I had to go today, so I figured if I can’t sleep, I can nap today. I did wake up in a bit more pain than usual, but not terrible. Now I’m out here on the deck, with an ice pack, and water, and coffee, and feeling pretty decent.

As I said, I didn’t have much pain yesterday, so I got some stuff done around the house. Like vacuumed the kitchen and living room, and swiffered the kitchen floor, ran the dishwasher and unloaded it, and did a load of laundry. Now I just need someone to help me change my sheets on my bed. I’ll see if Dan is coming down here, or I can ask my neighbors to help me. I can make the bed, but I can’t lift the mattress to tuck anything in without hurting myself.

Tomorrow I go back to PT, and I’m expecting it not to hurt me as much as in the past. He is mostly doing stretching exercises to lengthen the leg muscles, which I understand shortened considerably from me sitting with a pillow under my knee for so many months. He also puts me on the stationary bike, which I could only do about 20 rotations of the pedals last time, before my left thigh was burning. Maybe I’ll get up to 30 this time.

I feel like I’m making good progress with the healing. I am glad to find I can get to sleep without the opiod. And get through much of the day without too much pain. I kinda felt bad that as soon as Dan and I finished the crab cakes, I told him I needed to lay down on the couch, but I was exhausted. Cleaning up the house and then having company for a few hours just wore me out. Dan went home shortly after I situated myself on the couch. If he didn’t have such sleep issues of his own, that he’s working to resolve, I would feel bad that he didn’t want to stay. But honestly, I was so tired, I went to bed at about 9:15, and I’m guessing I fell asleep around 10:30. It’s all good.

I am so looking forward to this election being over. I pray that Biden wins and that DT with all his idiocy limps off into the woods with all his crazy making. Or off to another country, as he keeps threatening, lol. Like Yeah, Mr. Prez….promise us that we won’t see you anymore, and make that the one promise that you keep. Meanwhile, FL COVID #’s are going up again, over 4000 new cases for the last 2 days. We had gotten down to under 2000 for a couple days (which is not good, but way better than the numbers we were pulling in July as he opened the state back up) but since then it’s been climbing back up. 45 says if he loses FL he’s going to “fire” our governor (who is a big tRump surrogate). So many of us are hoping would he keep that promise too, if he could. Which of course, he can’t.

Life is good, at the moment. I am very blessed in so many ways. My healing is going well, it seems to me. Beginning to actually feel happy again….when I can walk around the block, and change my own sheets,x lol, I will truly have crossed that bridge to Happyland.

Love and light, everyone.

A Day in the Life

It was my first morning outside in sooo long. I was sitting on my little deck, and so enjoying the fresh morning air. I had my computer, my kindle, and my phone outside with me. It had apparently rained overnight, so everything was a little damp, glistening in the bright morning sunlight. I wiped down the chairs on my deck and sat down, with my pillow and an icepack.

Ahhh, someday I’ll be able to forego the icepack. It’s been a constant companion to me for months now. Anyway, I came inside for a few minutes, oblivious to the dark gray cloud that was hovering to the west. I can’t remember what I was doing, but I didn’t look back outside for about 10 minutes. When I opened the back door, to head back outside, it was POURING! One of those 5 minute cloudbursts that dumps a ton of rain very quickly, and then is over. The only problem was that my computer, Kindle, and phone were still out on the table, though I’d had the presence of mind to set the pillow that I put in my chair on top of the computer when I came in. The Kindle has it’s own cover, and the phone, well…It’s an Iphone, supposed to be good for 30 minutes in water my son told me when he worked for T-Mobile.

I ran outside as best I could. It is only a couple of steps but I am not actually able to run, or even walk quickly. The running outside was all in my mind. But I quickly retrieved the 3 electronic items, then went back for the pillow, and the icepack. I got it all dried off, and it all seems to be working, thank God. Now all the chairs were wet, again. And the tables too. I have one coffee table that is made for outdoors, and 2 small folding tables. The folding tables I use to put fans on, for the days when my friends come over for coffee or wine, depending on the weather. It it’s hot, it’s in the morning, and we have coffee. If it’s not too hot, we wait til afternoon and have wine and weed, So, today is not that hot, relatively speaking. It’s in the low 80’s, which in Florida is ok. The humidity is high, I think from the rain.

So one of my friends is coming over this afternoon for a little while, so I dried everything off again when the rain stopped. Of course now, an hour later, I look out and it’s raining again….for a few more minutes. Another cloudburst. Even though the radar shows no more showers here, in Gulfport, it shows them all around, so I will wait til she gets here to decide where we will sit and to dry the stuff off. Maybe just at the kitchen table. We can socially distance there, and we will mask up, being inside, but I hope we can go outside anyway, I hope the rain that wasn’t supposed to be here, ends. But that’s Florida for you, especially by the coast, especially by the Gulf coast, with that warm Gulf of Mexico water feeding the clouds.

I had such a bad day yesterday. I did PT on Friday, and by late in the day I was in so much pain. I couldn’t get it to settle down, so I took one of my real pain meds, and finally, it subsided. I didn’t take another when I went to bed, but I woke at about midnight in pain, and took another, mind you it was 8-9 hours later. Then I woke yesterday morning to an upset stomach, and a TON of pain. I ended up going back to sleep on the couch for a couple hours. Ate a lunch that I didn’t like so didn’t finish it, and laid back down and fell asleep for a couple more hours.

I was a little depressed. Partly because I was alone, again. Dan called me but offered very little in the way of sympathy. It was very cloudy outside, and supposed to rain, so I didn’t want to go sit on the deck, because I was in no shape to get the stuff inside quickly if it should start raining. I tell you this not to whine, at least not much, but to explain why I got depressed. I was just sick of hurting, sick of not feeling well, sick of the election crap all over the news all the time, and all over FB.

So….I went to my default, which is gratitude. To be grateful that Dan was good enough to take care of me for so long. Grateful for my friends, who have taken my garbage can out, and picking up my mail, and picking up my prescriptions, and just dropping by so we can visit, and share whatever we have. By evening I was feeling better. At least my back/hip/leg thing. I couldn’t cook though, so I ordered Chinese delivery, and even though it was good, I could only eat a little of it. And really, I’d hardly eaten during the day but whatever. Stomach was still not right. A few hours later I realized that I COULD eat an English muffin with peanut butter, so I did, and that was it. I’ll have the Chinese food tonight.

I woke this morning feeling pretty good. The pain was manageable, the stomach was normal so that’s a good day. Texted with some friends, and then one of them decided to come over this afternoon. It is good of all of them to come here, since it is a chore for me to get out. They all say they love to come here…so that works out for all of us.

As for Dan….He asked for a few days off, off from taking care of me, which I obliged. I won’t go into detail about his issues, but he has been taking care of me, his mother and his brother. His mother I get, she is 93 years old and doesn’t get around real well. His brother? He’s my age, and basically incapable of doing much for himself, but that’s another story. I think he thought I would be there a couple weeks, even though that was something he made up for himself, no one ever told him that I’d be able to walk in a couple weeks. Considering my left leg could not hold me up, I have been working just to get it strong enough to do that, and to walk. I can now walk around the house cane/walker free. But the knee still buckles on me occasionally, so I take the cane with me everywhere. The walker I don’t use much. Mostly just to cart things from room to room, as it has a canvas basket on it that I can put stuff into, so it saves me multiple trips from room to room.

Still….I found that once again, looking for things to be grateful for helped me to climb out of the hole I was falling into. I guess it was simply not feeling well in any way, and having no one I could lean on yesterday. After I started feeling better my son called, and we talked for almost an hour. His girlfriend and her daughter were in California visiting her family so we had a nice chat. Miss that kid!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend. Love and light to all.

Under The (Florida) Sun

I’m watching ‘Under the Tuscan Sun”for maybe the 10th time, give or take a couple. I love this movie. It is partially responsible for me wanting to see Italy before I die. iThe story though, reminds me of how I felt when I sold my house up north and moved here, to the small town of Gulfport in Florida.

If you’ve not read the book or seen the movie, Diane Lane stars as Frances, a woman who goes through a heartbreak of a divorce. Her friends give her a free ticket for a tour of Tuscany. The friends are gay, and give her a ticket for a gay tour, assuming she won’t meet anyone on the trip since she is not gay, but will be able to put the past behind her. On one of the the bus trips she finds a 300 year old estate in Tuscany, complete with a a vineyard and apple orchard, and a lot of surprises. She is a writer, unlike me she is a good writer, published. She wrote the book, and it became the movie.

The big house itself was in complete disrepair. My house was not. Mine is a small bungalow, 1/3 the size of my house in Connecticut. And had recently been remodeled to be flipped. She is a gourmet cook. I, sadly, am not. Oh, I can cook, but gourmet? No. Nope. I used to be better than I am now, and hope to get back to cooking much more seriously when I can stand for more than a few minutes.

There is a creepy similarity between us in the critters that we both encountered in our new homes. Hers were spiders, an owl, a snake. Mine have been the giant frigging palmetto bugs that luckily don’t run in packs, but can be found singularly lying on the floor on their backs, looking dead, but often are not. They are terrifying to look at and if they start flying you probably feel the need to run for cover. The second, and worse, critter are the fruit rats, that nest in the palm trees, and come in through the roof, utilizing any small hole they can find. I can relate to the snake, my cat once brought one in the house but that was up north, not here in Florida. When the snake got in her house, she couldn’t find it again, and I had the same issue. The snake in my house went under the couch and was never seen again. A couple of months later, I did find it’s shed skin in a plant that I had by a picture window. But as far as I know, the snake still lives in that house with the new owners.

I just paid someone $225 to go up on the roof and block any holes he found. I have not heard one, or seen one since, so I’m hoping my rat problem has been solved. At least until I cut the palm tree down that they live in on the corner of my house.

I guess one reason I love that movie is because I, like Francesca, as Frances is known in Italy, were both seeking to create a new life when we moved here. She was leaving her divorce behind. I was leaving a lot of bad memories behind… a long, ugly, contentious divorce from a man who turned out to be spiraling into the unknown world of mental illness, a ridiculously bad relationship, that was, as Dan says, the rebound guy. The rebound guy will never be THE guy, and he wasn’t. Neither was Francesca’s. I even waited many years before dating after my divorce, thinking that would keep me from choosing the wrong man. But I did anyway, and I gave it my all. I’m pretty sure she did too.

In the end, I left him behind, and my ex behind, and the house I loved but could not keep if I retired. Now I live in a 900 square ft bungalow where it is warm enough for shorts and flip-flops all the time, save for a few chilly days in the winter. I created a new life, as Francesca did. Made new friends, formed a writers group, and joined a spirit group, hung out with my sister, walked daily by the bay on which Gulfport is located. Up until the virus hit, I went to chair yoga once a week, taught by a close friend and member of the writer’s group. I met Dan, and the ending, if there is one, has yet to be written to that relationship. I stay in the moment with this relationship, without expectations. I try to let it flow down the path of least resistance, and accept whatever that brings. I wake up most days happy to be alone, happy to see the glorious sunrise out my kitchen window, happy to sit on my deck in the warm morning.

Francesca, created the life she dreamed of. I think I’m doing the same. There are two very different stories, but somehow similar.

I still dream of going to Italy before it’s too late. Got to work on my manifestation powers.

Love and light to all.

Wednesday Morning Stream of Consciousness

Not in any particular order.

I am happy to be sleeping in my own bed. I had to remember how to get into it, since it’s about 6” higher off the ground than most beds, including Dan’s. The first time I did it wrong and pulled some muscle near my SI joint. I thought, “Oh shit. This is gonna hurt in the morning.” But it didn’t.

I had a great day yesterday! Instead of our Tues morning coffee klatch at my house, we all met for breakfast in downtown Gulfport at our favorite place. Not sure if “downtown” is an accurate term for a commercial district that is about 3 blocks long. But it’s a good enough term.

Then we watched our good friend, who is part of the group, perform her one-woman, one-act play. It was rehearsal, she’s going to do it for a larger group of friends only. She is so talented.

I had a really good day because I hardly had any pain. I did take half a pain-killer before I went, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole thing. It’s only twice since I left the hospital that I’ve taken anything during the day.

Today I have my first outpatient PT. I sure hope it helps. I’d love to get rid of the nagging pain in my hip, so I could walk more. I hope it doesn’t hurt me much. I will stop doing whatever they tell me if it hurts. (Home health care PT told me if it hurts your body will resist the healing. You have to stop if it hurts.

The hip discomfort originates from my spine. It’s better, which is why I try not to call it “pain”. Because I have had pain there, and this is not pain.

This morning I almost did my exercises given to me by the home health care therapist, but chose not to because I was afraid that combined with the PT I’m going to today, that it might really hurt. So, I’ll wait til I get home.

My friend, the playwright, might come over today or tomorrow. Just to visit.

I ordered from Amazon a swivel stool for my bathtub. I got it yesterday, and put it together. I also got some suction cup grab bars for the walls. Dan tried to put big metal ones in, but behind my tile is cement. The suction cup ones are just easier, and inexpensive from Amazon. This morning I’ll try the stool and grab bars out.

I need someone to go to the store with me for a few things. I know one of my friends would take me. I can use one of those electric carts, but getting from the car to the store might mean walking farther than I can walk without pain. I need to be dropped off at the front door. But I need fruit and veggies. Maybe I need to do Instacart again.

I put on earrings yesterday for the first time in 7 weeks. I was afraid the holes in my ears might have closed. But they didn’t. Happy about that. I even wore makeup. Crazy!

I could go on a rant about 45. I don’t want to though, because I have nothing new to say. I can only say that every day he becomes a bigger sociopath. A bigger liar. Less empathetic. He obviously believes that the truth is what he says, meaning he thinks if he says it, if it comes out of his mouth, it’s true. I lived with someone like that for a long time, and I see 45 on the same sad descent as that person. That pretty soon he might do something so outrageous that he has to be stopped, and that’s scary, because he wields a lot of power, at least for the next few months. Let’s hope his derangement is not that bad, but it seems to me that he is utterly delusional about many things.

Enough said.

Hoping that everyone has a great day. Love and light.

What A Week

I had two different blogs started in the last couple of days. Then, I closed my laptop and unplugged it after checking the battery to make sure it was charged enough to make the 20 minute trip to my house. My sisters and I were planning a Google Meet session, but when I got to my house I couldn’t get the laptop to reboot, having shut itself down on the 20 minute ride. So, I had to do the meeting on my phone which I am loathe to do because it’s so hard to see on the phone. However, it went well, I could see fine.

Today, since the post I had on there that was incomplete was now lost forever, I started another, and in the middle of it, I got a warning that my computer had problems and it would have to reboot. After waiting about a half hour for that to happen, I just shut it off with the button, and then rebooted it myself about 3 or 4 times and finally! It’s working. (I hope!)

So the news this week is CRAZY! First the damn debate. Yikes, what a shit show. Though I thought Joe did a good job of trying to fend off 45, the creepiest of all when he went after Hunter. Geezus, Joe’s one remaining son. 45 is such a scumbag. Evil, really.

Then, and I guess chronologically it was before the debate, was his nomination for RBG’s seat, and the big party. Which, as it turns out, became what looks like a super spreader event and now 45 has the virus. I don’t wish him ill, but it IS poetic justice, is it not? And if he has it bad, which seems possible based on the info that the dr’s are not giving us, not answering questions about, well….karma is a bitch now, isn’t she? Even his dr is afraid to tell the truth – “was he on oxygen Friday?” No…until today when we find out he was for about an hour, and his dr said something like we wanted to keep the report upbeat….. Sounds a lot like “I didn’t want to cause a panic” by telling the people the truth.

Wow. Just WOW.

In the meantime, I’m going home from Dan’s tomorrow. I’d go today, but it’s raining, and I don’t want to have to unpack the car in the rain. Not to mention slipping on a wet step is what caused the fall that caused all this anyway. I am really kind of afraid to try to walk in it. In the meantime, we are not getting along very well, because he is sick of me being here, he wants his house back. I get it. I want to be home. But I keep wondering, did he think this would be a quick two-week deal and I’d be ok? I have to basically learn to walk again, and get my left leg strong enough to do so. It still causes me a lot of pain if I’m up for very long. I am concerned about what to do about taking a shower, since I have no hand holds in my tub/shower. He said he’d install them, but hasn’t. Not to mention I have no seat to sit on, and I have to climb over the side of the tub to get in…the logistics are ridiculous. I don’t feel comfortable with my set up at home, until he puts the grab bars in the shower. But I’ll figure it out. Maybe stand at the kitchen sink to wash my hair. Which will be hard, but doable. Whatever. I need to get home, and get some peace.

I am doing better. The pool has really helped, and maybe I can get back to it, if things mellow out between us. I’m guessing they will, but then again….I really don’t know, and we are not able to talk about anything that needs to be worked out. Dan doesn’t do those deep intimate conversations, so we don’t do them. He always gets defensive, and it’s hard to come to any conclusion except to leave it alone. He’s been so good to me since the surgery, but this week, he’s not able to keep that up. I’ve tried to explain where I’m at with the whole thing. I was so happy I can drive again, and go in a pool. Small steps, but important ones. I feel like he thought oh, good, she can drive, she’ll go home. And since I haven’t, because I didn’t feel ready, I’m a little (understandably, I think) fearful of falling again, or something. I’ve fallen 3 times since I got home from the hospital, and while it’s been 3 weeks since I last fell, I’m afraid anyway. I’m getting stronger, but not strong enough yet.

So, here I am whining. And wishing I could get out of here tonight.

I got my ballot in the mail yesterday, and I’m going to fill it out and take it to the voting station by my house and put it in one of the permanent drop boxes. FL has been doing mail in ballots for years, so I’m not really worried about it getting there anyway. But I like dropping it off at the collection box.

I hope you all are safe and well. Love and light to all.

Progress, Tempered with Sadness

I haven’t written in a long while. Obviously it seems a little weird to me, not to want to be tapping on my keyboard, with something to say about something, anything. I’m going to say that my reticence is somewhat attributable to the quarantine. Although most everything in Florida is now open (stupidly, I might add) I still wouldn’t have gone anywhere because I am one of the at-risk people: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and almost 70. I do know that there are quite a few venues that have music, outdoors, and the tables are placed at correct social distancing, and the staff does a good job of sanitizing and cleaning after each table clears, and they also wear masks. So the risk is down.

But obviously, I have other issues keeping me from going out. I am in my fourth week of PT. The therapists are trying hard to get my left leg strong enough to support me when I walk. They have been successful in getting me onto a cane during the day. I’ve walked to the pool, and/or the mailboxes. I’m still not supposed to go in the pool but I expect that to change after I see the surgeon on Thursday. The incision is healed, well so I’m sure he’ll clear me for the pool which will be a great thing for my PT. I’m also hopeful he will clear me to drive. Then I could go home, at least in the daytime, and come back to Dan’s for the night. I just feel safer when he is around at night, because nights and mornings are the hardest time for me. I revert back to the walker at night, and first thing in the morning. But I would so like to go home, and have my friends come over, and maybe have something else to write about.

As for writing, I believe that all these months of not being able to go out of the house on my own, and quarantining, has dulled my senses. I have been focused on pain relief, and not much else. I am anxious to get to the point where pain relief is not the focus of my day, and I know that day is coming because each day I feel a little better, with a little less pain. The therapists tell me it’s obvious how much stronger I have gotten on my left side, but I still have a horrible fear of falling and doing more damage to myself. But I believe them, and I know that my pain levels are down to less than half of what they were, and my leg is getting stronger every day. I wish it were faster, I am ready to have my life back.

Which leads me to the one other thing I have to write about now, and that is the sad passing of Justice Ginsburg. What an amazing woman she was. (I typed “is” and had to go back and change it to “was”, which almost made me cry.) Dan and I had not seen the movie RBG, so watched it yesterday. While I am totally in agreement with her political views, Dan was not always, though often, in agreement with her. But he feels almost as sad as I do that she is gone from us, because she was so strong, and consistent with her beliefs. Because she was such a decent person. When I think of how she affected my life, and all women’s lives. I said to Dan during the movie, “Can you imagine if I couldn’t get a credit card in my name? I’d still be married…..” Because that’s how I put my attorney on retainer, I gave her $1000 on my newly acquired credit card in my name only. When I think of the ramifications in terms of my own life, I get pretty emotional. She knew….that there were millions of women like me that needed her help, and she selflessly gave us and argued for us. The work is not done, but she certainly gave us a strong start. The work has to be carried on by those of us left behind.

We will miss her, all of us. She said she saw the Constitution in terms of creating a more perfect union and I feel like all her work was toward that end.

What makes many of us miss her even more is that now 45 has a chance to really unbalance the court and affect our laws, our country for years to come. So damn scary. Terrifying. But like many things in this life that I can’t affect, I will have to trust the universe on this one, and try to stay in the present moment.

So I hope all of you are well, and dealing with all this well. These are scary times, and we can’t let them dampen our spirits, and take our joy from us. I remain hopeful.

Love and light to all.

Healing Is Taking Place

I’m feeling much better these days. I’m on my third week of PT at home (or actually, Dan’s house). While my left leg is still quite weak, I am graduating from a walker to a cane, which will make it much easier for me to transition back to my house. My left thigh has atrophied so much, it’s visibly noticeable. But if I keep doing the exercises PT tells me to, it will strengthen. My pain levels have decreased so much. I make it through the night on one hydrocodone, and don’t take any others for the most part. Trying to stick with ibuprofen, and gabapentin which is a nerve pain med.

Yesterday we went over to my house to pick up a few things, but stopped on the way at our favorite Cuban restaurant, and sat outside at a picnic table, with a canopy. It was hot, but to me, that felt good. I’ve been inside in the air conditioning so much with my limited ability to get around. While we were there, my friends who are also my neighbors stopped at the restaurant and we visited for a short time. They are also the friends who are picking up my mail for me. It felt so normal, to be at a restaurant, visiting with good friends. It gave me a real lift.

I’m really trying to get my life back now. Work out these muscles, which, while it may hurt right after I do them, I usually feel better the next day. And stronger. My left knee still buckles once in a while when I walk, but it’s not the common occurrence it was a couple of weeks ago.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Dan. He does so much for his mother and brother, and takes good care of me while encouraging me daily to do my exercises, and do what I can for myself. knowing how independent I am. He has a much bigger heart than he wants people to know! I probably should have gone to a rehab center somewhere when I left the hospital, but I couldn’t bear the thought, and he just volunteered his home to me. I mean obviously, we lived together for most of the first 3 years of our relationship, at one of our homes or the other. This made it easy for us to adjust to my being here full time, but I’ve been here just over a month. I’m only now beginning to miss my life back at my house, and I know he certainly misses his alone time. But we have kind of gotten a rhythm going where I get up hours before him in the morning (always been an early riser) and he comes to bed hours after I’ve gone. And because my solitary hydrocodone is always taken when I go to bed, I am knocked out when he gets to bed, and he is usually fast asleep when I get up. So, we each have a few hours of alone time, which is working for us at the moment. I also appreciate the way he can make me laugh, and forget any issues I have with pain or getting around. He’s proven to be a blessing in my life for sure. I’m so glad that we resolved the issues we had last winter, before COVID, and before I became disabled. And we really did resolve them, not bury them.

When this is all over, I’m going to try to book us a few days away, at a BnB somewhere. It will still be off-season, so shouldn’t be too expensive. I think he would like to get away from his other charges (his mother and brother) for a few days, and just relax, and I’d like to do this to thank him for all he has done for me. It would also be good for me to get a few days away to get some perspective on this whole ordeal, and put it behind me.

I’m thinking that soon I can go out to hear my friends play at one of the restaurants around here. They all have outdoor seating, and the musicians play outdoors, so that will be a lot of fun for us, to get a slice of our regular life back. I just need to get proficient with the cane, and get my left leg strong enough not to buckle, and I think I can get around enough to walk from the car to the restaurant, which is about 100’. Looking so forward to it.

I hope all of you are well, and safe. Every day I watch the COVID numbers and they just make me so sad. So many of those deaths were avoidable, if we’d just had some leadership. I remember back when this started, and they were projecting numbers like we have now, and I kept thinking “It can’t get that bad, not in this country.” But sadly, it can, when the leader of this country doesn’t lead, and lies every chance he gets. But for the moment, I’ll let that go, and just hope all of you are safe, and remain that way.

Love and light to everyone.

End of An Ordeal, and a View of The Real Heroes

i’m back. What an ordeal.

I had the epidural on Wednesday a few weeks ago. I was feeling a little better each day for about 10 days. Then, in the ealy morning hours of Sunday night, I woke in excruciating pain. I had taken a Tramadol before I went to bed on Sunday. When I woke up at 3 AM I took another, since it was the only heavy duty pain killers I had in my possession. When I woke again at 8 AM, in just as much pain,I took another. I proceeded to get nauseous and pretty soon was sick to my stomach. Over and over. Meanwhile I could barely make it from my bed to the bathroom, maybe 10 steps. Trying to get back was another thing all together. My thigh just went out from under me, and I collapsed on the bathroom floor, right on the parts of me that hurt so badly. Thank God, Dan was there. He got me up, I walked with his help to the bed, where I couldn’t get back on it. He lifted me onto the bed since my left leg had become useless. At some point, I fell again. Got up with his help.

Finally, I realized I needed to be in the hospital. I couldn’t do anything for myself. Nothing. I called an ambulance. Dan would have taken me, but I couldn’t walk into the hospital. Walking was by now out of the question. The pain was excruciating. Since I was sick to my stomach, I couldn’t take any more pain killers. I thought I was dying. It was undoubtedly the worst I’d ever felt in my life. Dan helped me get some decent pajamas on, that I could wear to the hospital, he packed a small bag with my med, my kindle, a comb. The EMT’s came, got all the info, and helped me get on the transport to go in the ambulance. 10 or 15 minutes later I was at the hospital being admitted in Emergency. Still throwing up. And almost delirious from the pain I was in.

They were wonderful. The first thing they did was give me an IV and hit me with some Dilauded, and some anti-nausea medication. I could have kissed them. Instantly, after I got the Dilauded, the pain was gone. I was conscious, but so groggy. They got me into a room. Then got me in the queue for an MRI. It was 5 PM when the ambulance picked me up, it was about 1 AM when I finally got the MRI. They were busy.

I want to say, I waited about going to the hospital. Most people know we have a terrible COVID problem here. I was afraid to go, for one thing, and feeling guilty about taking a bed up for another. I mentioned this to the nurse who was escorting me to the MRI. He said, “Look, you are a definite hospital patient. You are not a home patient. You have to be here. And don’t worry, we have plenty of beds.” As it turned out the COVID patients are kept entirely separate from the rest of the population. They came in every day and sanitized my room completely. I never felt unsafe there. They also gave me a COVID test when I got there, which was negative.

The next day, Tuesday, I met the hospital neurosurgeon. He was nothing short of fabulous. He asked what “they” told me was wrong with me. I told him, “spinal stenosis.” He kind of rolled his eyes and said, “You have a LOT of stuff going on in there. But the thing causing all your pain is a couple pieces of broken bone, or vertebrae which have lodged behind L3 and L4 and are rubbing against the nerves in your spinal column.” He then told me he could make a small incision along my spine, pull back the ligaments and nerves, and fish the broken pieces out. Not for a second did he make me feel unsure that he could do it. He knew he could fix me and conveyed that to me. That within days of the surgery I would be feeling way better. I asked when he could do it, expecting him to say, next week…two weeks… He though about it for a moment, and said, “How about Thursday.”

If I could have jumped for joy I would have. Two days, and he’d have me fixed. OMG. There was hope at the end of this 6 months of struggle. I can’t believe the euphoria I felt just having a real answer, and a real solution.

So Thursday morning they wheeled me to the OR. The surgery was scheduled for 10:30, and started right on time. He had guestimated it would tak an hour and a half, and another half hour before and after for the anesthetic So that’s 2 ½ hours, I expected to wake about 1PM. When I woke it was 2:30. When I saw the dr I asked if he got both pieces out. He said, “You had a LOT more than 2 pieces in there. I must have pulled out 6 or 7 pieces of bone. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spine with so many bone framents in it.”

So that’s why it took 4 hours. And why I was in so much pain.

But even by that night I felt better, with pain levels way down. Not to mention they were giving me hydrocodone, something called Torodol, and another nerve pain drug, every 4 hours. However, I had never felt this much relief before the surgery.

I loved the fact that at the hospital, when you are in pain, they just give you something for it. I was so sick of hassling over getting pain meds, especially when I found out how much damage there was to my spine. And still when I went home, they only gave me 3 days worth of pain med, which I am rationing out because I’m afraid I am going to run out. However, not so worried about it now that I’ve been home a couple days, and feel better each day. Today, I got up from the recliner for the first time by myself. Which is HUGE. It means I can go to the bathroom without assistance. I can go to get dressed. I can get into the kitchen. And most f all, I don’t have much pain.

6 months I have been in agony. And in 5 days at the hospital, I was fixed. Finally, I’m on the right road, got the right people helping me, and I am getting my life back

Couldn’t be more grateful. Or happy. Euphoric, really. And blessed. So many many people checked on me from Iowa to Connecticut to Florida. My sisters, my friends, all checking in on me, making me laugh. Keeping me from feeling alone. , remember, we are in the time of Corona. No one can come see you once you go through those emergency doors you are alone, except for the competence of the wonderful hospital staff caring for you. I tried to tell them all how much I appreciated what they were doing, like firemen running into the burning building, they are going into the fire of COVID every day, with a smile on their face, working 12-13 hour shifts, never making you feel like you’re a burden. They ARE heroes. For Sure.

And then there’s Daniel, without whom I’d have been lost. Who has cared for me wonderfully, been there for me every step of the way. Still I lean on him, still he stands by me, straight and strong. I love him so much.

So I’m back, at least for now. Thanks for reading this, and sticking with me. Love and light to all.

The Epidural and Other Updates

A week ago, I got the epidural, the injection of yet more cortisone into my spine. We had to be there at 8, so I asked Dan to spend the night so it would be easier to get there in the morning. Which he did, without complaint.

We got there on time, but he was not allowed into the waiting room, due to the virus. It would have been less nerve-wracking if he’d been allowed to sit with me. But I get it. No more people than necessary in the surgical center. They took me in promptly at 9 AM. A nurse began setting up an IV in the back of my right hand. Since I was only there for an epidural, I asked what the IV was for.

“To sedate you.” “Really? I replied because I didn’t feel nervous at all. But apparently I was not reading my body well because my blood pressure, usually in the low range was up over 170, and I don’t know what the diastolic number was, because the 170 freaked me out a little. I told her I guessed it was high from the pain since I’d taken no pain meds that morning. No acetaminophen, or anything. She thought I was nervous. Anyway, the nurse couldn’t find the vein in the back of my right hand, so she taped it off and went to find someone else to try my left hand. The next nurse got it in. I asked what they were giving me to sedate me, and the nurse said she didn’t really know but probably some drug I’d never heard of and maybe some fentanyl. I was like really? Fentanyl? For an epidural? I didn’t question it aloud, but still it seemed overkill to me.

At any rate, they wheeled me into the room where the procedure would be done. I saw my dr on the way there and barely recognized him because he was in, obviously, full PPE. I’d had to strip down and put on one of those horrible hospital gowns, “Open in the back…” Then I had to roll onto another bed, which caused the “gown” to slide off my ass. Lovely. Just what I wanted to do was have my backside exposed in front of the 3 or 4 young men in this room, 20 or 30 somethings, who were there to help me get onto the other bed, and on my stomach, and hurt a lot. Rolling over is a problem for me, or was, at the moment.

They then begin scrubbing my back down with some betadine solution, I think. Or iodine. They asked if I had an allergy to iodine. No…. They wiped it clean, I guess, since I couldn’t see I can’t be sure. I’m guessing they put a topical solution on me then, and began inserting the needle, which I could not tell you if it was huge or not. Gratefully, I never saw it. He put it in a few times, and I could feel it, so I wasn’t that sedated. It hurt. But of course it did, and I was still hopeful for a good result. In a matter of minutes, they were getting me back onto the first bed, covering me with nice warm sheets or maybe a flannel blanket. Again, my BP was really high so I laid in the post-op room for a long bit, til they could see the BP coming down. The male nurse got me a small can of ginger ale, and asked me how I felt. Was I nauseous? In pain? I said, actually, I just want to go to sleep, since I hadn’t slept much the night before. By 10 AM he was having me sign a bunch of release documents, and then I got dressed. He had taken the IV out, and bandaged it. I looked down and the bandage had slipped down my arm, and a huge bruise of purple and red and blue was forming on the back of my hand. All swollen up. I got his attention and said, “I think you need to put this on again.” When he saw it I watched alarm flicker across his professional face. He said he was going to go get an ice pack, but re-wrapped it first.

Can anyone tell me why they needed to do the IV in my hand? I know I bumped it a few times trying to get rolled over, feeling like a beached whale in my inability to turn over, which is probably why when he took it out it bled under the skin. But now, eve a week later, it looks like I punched someone. It’s not like they tried for my arm and couldn’t. I was not in a place in my head where I was going to question what they did, so I still just wonder.

Dan was out in the parking lot, and when he saw me at the front door (I was trying to call him) he came over and got me, why the nurse stayed with me til I was safely in the car. He’d had nothing to eat all morning, thinking I might want to go with him. And I’d have loved to. But just couldn’t.

I was now in some pain on the way home, but nothing compared to how I felt all afternoon, until about 4 PM. Just wanted to lay on the couch and sleep, not move and pray that I would eventually feel better. Dan made sure I was comfortable, had everything I needed, then went home. Because, what was he going to do, sit there and watch me sleep? But at 3 or 4 I got up to go to the bathroom and walk into the kitchen (which has been a chore for months) and realized I actually was feeling better. Pain levels were down considerably.

YAYAY.

I got a bite to eat shortly after that. Marveling at how much better I felt. While still in pain, the edge was off. I was not as bent over as I had been in the morning. I went to bed that night still with the hydrocodone, and my trusty Indica vape by my bed. I spoke to Dan at some point that evening, and he was happy to hear that I felt a little better.

Thursday and Friday, I felt a lot better. It was so awesome. I felt SOOO good that I decided to vacuum my living room on Friday. I mean, hey….it’s just pushing the vac around a not very big room. Big mistake….OMG. I had fired up my SI joint (one of many things this spinal stenosis caused pain in) and was once again in deep pain. The rest of Friday, and Saturday. I walked around, and sat around with an icepack on my back, and one on my SI muscle in the front. And mostly I just sat in the recliner with the icepacks

Later in the day Saturday, Dan called and wanted to know what I’d want to eat, if I could order food from anywhere. “Pia’s” I said, without hesitation. It’s our favorite restaurant in town here, with really good Italian fare, like lasagna made with their super thick rich bolognese sauce. Anyway, that was all he needed to hear. He came over that afternoon, and at dinnertime, with a take out bag from Pia’s So so good. We even had a glass of wine with it, because by dinner the SI joint pain was easing somewhat.

Sunday my writer’s group, Hypatia, had our monthly zoom meeting. A couple people couldn’t make it, and only 3 had written anything, so it was a short meeting, and I was grateful for that. I felt a little better, but it’s such slow going.

Monday, I ordered groceries from Instacart. And I canceled for the 3rd time my appointment to get a back brace fitted, because of the logistics of parking the car and getting into the building. Gotta wait until I can actually walk more than 30 steps. Tuesday 3 of my girlfriends came over for coffee in the morning for a couple hours. The visit was shortened by a pop-up thunderboomer, but it was lovely to see them. Dan came in the afternoon, and we talked, had dinner, played cards.

Now, today, 10 days later, I have decided I am slowly improving. The improvement is made in small increments. The biggest difference, to me, is that at night when the pain was always the worst, I can lie on the couch with NO pain. That’s a HUGE improvement. I’m still on an ice pack, but taking less Tylenol. And last night….I skipped taking the opiate, they have only given me 7 more, and that’s the end of it, so I wanted to see if I could sleep without it. I felt I could because I really had no pain, once I got into bed.

Of course, I didn’t go to sleep, lol. Not even with my trusty vape. So around 1 AM I took an Ambien, and some ibuprofen, and guess that I slept fitfully for a couple hours. At 4 AM I got up and got an icepack, laid it on my hip and fell asleep until 7:30. So, not too bad for my first night without a real pain killer.

I’m happy with my progress so far. I mean, yeah, there’s a long way to go, but first I needed to get the pain under control. Next, I need to be able to walk, say, through the grocery store. Maybe down to my friend’s house 3 door down. Anything to not feel so confined to this tiny 900 sq. ft. house, with its tiny yard. Don’t get me wrong, I love my house. But not 24/7/365. For months it’s all I have seen except for the inside of a doctor’s office, or occasionally Dan’s house, though that’s been about 6 or 8 weeks. And of course, I’m home all the time not just because I have this ailment. It’s also the damn virus, which while it’s better here, has a long way to go. Yeah, we were down to 5,800 new cases. Ridiculously high, but way better than 10,000, 12,000, or even 15,000. I think we still lead the nation in daily new cases though. So, even if my health were perfect, I wouldn’t be going out, except maybe to the beach. Missing the beach. I haven’t been in ages. I actually enjoy it in the summer when the beach is basically empty. And the water is so warm. Maybe soon, maybe soon.

So, all in all, I’m hopeful. The pain is not gone, I still can’t walk far, but I can walk farther, at least today. I made it out to my mailbox this morning, a distance of 30′ to 40’. I have a dr appointment on Wednesday afternoon, so he can evaluate the success of the epidural. Personally, I think I’ll need another, or something anyway because my hip joint and SI joint still hurt. And I still cannot walk far without pain. I am using the pain meds sparingly because he has told me I won’t get more. He said I didn’t need more, because I’m better. Which is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned, since I’m still in significant pain. Not as bad as I was, but still….If my pain level was a 9 out of 10, and now it’s at a 6 or 7. it’s still significant. And I still need help with it.

Daniel has started to be grouchy, and irritable in the last few days, for no real cause except he is not sleeping well, but he never sleeps well. I get that he feels slightly put upon because he is helping his mother, brother and me. But it’s a choice he made, and he doesn’t have to do anything for me, except drive me to the dr, and even that I can do for myself is week. So….I haven’t seen him in about 3 days, except to talk to him on Facetime. But the conversation always ends up with politics, which we differ on a lot and which I hate discussing because seriously I have so little interest in it. I don’t want to see him as long as he’s in this mood. He’s been good to me, I get he’s sick of it, but I have no choice regarding my ability to do anything, and no one is sicker than me of it.

The only thing I am really upset about with politics is that I am so pissed off at 45 about the USPS antics. I never in my life expected to have a president who is absolutely determined to disenfranchise as many voters as he can. And to not give a damn if they have to stand in line in a pandemic. I’m getting a mail-in ballot but will take it to the polling station near my house and put it in the dropbox they have there.

Well, there you have it, the complete update, lol. I hope everyone is healthy, safe, and happy.

A Little Self-Pity, A Lot of Gratitude, and a Hurricane in Case You Are Bored and Live Down here.

Here I sit, on my deck, with an ice pack on my back, still.  It’s  Saturday, so there is not much sound except for the birds, and the low hum of air conditioners from around the neighborhood.

Every day I awaken around 4 AM, which I guess is about the time the pain killer I took the night before stops being effective.  Sometimes I go into the kitchen then and get an icepack to help me get back to sleep for another hour or two.  Sometimes, I just need to move a little, and can then avoid the trek to the kitchen in the dark.  Once I finally get up, between 5:30 and 6:30, I hobble to the kitchen and sit down in a chair because that 20 ft is about as much as I can take.  I pull a chair over to the freezer, which gratefully is on the bottom of my fridge, and get a nice cold icepack, put it against the back of a kitchen chair, and lean against it, until I am able to stand up for a short time without too much pain.

It’s a real process, for me to get to a point where I can make coffee, or get a bowl of fruit.  Then I sit and read Apple News, and Facebook and try not to move off the icepack for a good hour or so.  I move out onto the deck when I am able, which was about 8 am today.

This Wednesday I am scheduled for an epidural and I am praying that it helps.  Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 of these shots.  But I’m hopeful that I may be able to walk more, and better, after this shot.  I have to go to a surgical center to get it.  The appointment is for 9, which I’m guessing will mean I need to be there before 8 am.  If it allows me to begin to get back to my normal life I will be so happy.  When I first started with this problem, it was March. Now its 5 months later. I never expected to still be dealing with it now.

I’ve found myself getting a little depressed lately. I have to say it’s not a state I’m familiar with, really. Nor do I want to become too familiar with it. But the inability to just do simple things gets to me at times. Sometimes I press on, because I just get sick of telling myself things like “no, don’t change your sheets, it will hurt.” Because I did that the other day, a little at a time. Pull off a sheet, rest my back. Pull off another rest my back. Put another on and (this is the killer) tuck it in at the bottom, which you all know means lifting the mattress a few inches. I did this. I thought I was ok. I thought I’d rested enough during that process to not screw myself.

I was wrong. By late in the day I was dying. Walking bent over like I was 100 years old. “Fuck” I said to myself. “You shouldn’t have done the sheets.” Imagine, I cannot change my sheets without someone to help me. So, between my inability to do much for myself, combined with searing pain, I fell into a sad and tearful state until I went to bed and took another hydrocodone. Since I only got 7 of them I only take one at night. It allows me to get 5 or 6 hours of sleep, and then I can usually get one or two more hours if I’m lucky. I am also grateful that I have a medical marijuana card, because marijuana really helps me to deal with the pain. It doesn’t stop it, but it removes it from front and center of my brain so I can rest, and sleep.

I miss going to the beach. Usually, in summer the beaches are not crowded at all down here because it’s just too hot. I don’t go, because I can’t walk from the parking lot to the beach, maybe 500’ or so. I miss seeing my friends at the open mics around town. And lots more stuff. We all do.

I’m so sick of it all. Of the pain, of needing pain meds, of the side effects of the drugs, and of COVID-19. I allow myself a bit of self-pity on those days.

But not for long. I just can’t. I feel sorry for myself, and then remember that this week my girlfriends came over and social distanced with me on my deck. My sister came up for a visit and brought me the best lunch of grilled salmon and a salad. One of my friends offered to take my garbage to the street and bring it back on garbage day (she lives a few houses down from me). And then there’s Daniel, who texted me one night last week to tell me he’d ordered a pizza for me, to be delivered about 6:30. He knew I was wanting pizza and in this small town, there is only one place that delivers, and their pizza sucks. But he ordered it from a restaurant a few miles away, and it was pretty good, even though they messed up the order. And there is my son with whom I talk usually multiple times a day so that even if I can’t see him, I feel like I am part of his life.

I have a lot of blessings for which I’m so grateful.

The morning this morning is beautiful.  Not a cloud in the sky. It’s hot, but not too hot yet to sit outside There’s a gentle breeze out of the east. A half dozen butterflies are flitting around. The geckos are racing around the deck and the yard. It’s lovely.

However, this peacefulness is, by all forecasts, going to be interrupted this weekend by a hurricane. It will mostly stay on the east coast of Florida, and the Bahamas, but you never know where a hurricane is really going to go. And it could mean power outages and flooding here, despite the assurances we are presently getting that we won’t get a lot of rain. Just seems like we have enough crap going on, did we really need a hurricane too? Well of course, no one NEEDS a hurricane, but geez 2020, haven’t you given us enough obstacles this year? I hope everyone stays safe.

I guess that’s what we are all wishing for isn’t it? Safe from COVID, safe from hurricanes, safe from leaders who don’t lead, but spread fear, and hate. Maybe that’s 2020’s lesson, to teach us all to care for and about each other in broader terms than we’ve ever done before.

Here’s hoping that love and light find you, every day.