Sometimes It’s Lemonade, Sometimes, the Juice Burns Your Eye

Guess what it has been for me recently?

I know I’ve been AWOL for over a week now and I have only myself and life’s little problems to blame. Doctor appointments for me, mom, dad, physical therapy for me, running errands for mom and dad, trying to get ready for Christmas, playing for Advent services, and dealing with a case of extremely dry skin on my hands. But what I had to deal with yesterday topped everything.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day I practiced for today and the upcoming Christmas Eve services and next Sunday. The day I was going to clean house and do some baking and some decorating and my laundry. Then, at 11 o’clock A.M. the phone rang. It was dad asking me to come over because he’d had an accident. So, I dropped everything, put on clothes I could wear in public, and drove over there.

The accident actually happened on Friday probably right around the time the sun was going down. Per dad, someone hit him on the left side of the car. Dad is OK. The car is not. He wanted to go see it and talk with the people at the garage where the cops had it towed. Of course, dad didn’t remember the name of the garage, just that it was in his hometown and “near where he used to live”. Very helpful if I had been there at the time, but I wasn’t around then.

We found the garage, it was open, and we got to take what few things dad had left in the car home. Then it was to the bank and the grocery store and pharmacy. Then I had the singular joy of talking to dad’s insurance company. Lots of time spent with automated menus while mom and dad were both asking me “Maybe no one is there?” or “Aren’t they answering?”. I finally got a person to take the info on the claim, but I didn’t have all the info. One thing I didn’t know for sure was the name of the police department that helped dad because he didn’t remember. I also didn’t have any information on the other driver or drivers because dad said the person who hit him drove away. I don’t know if there were any witnesses, either.

The insurance company wanted us to use one of their approved garages to get faster service, but dad wants to keep the car where it is. Actually, I didn’t ask him about this since I was afraid that the approved garages might not be as conveniently located and it would mean more driving for me. The company also asked if he wanted a rental car. I told them that we hadn’t talked about it. (The last time dad had a rental car, he wrecked it and his insurance had to pay.)

After all this, I had to make them lunch since they had not eaten. Never mind that I hadn’t eaten either. Neither had I made it to Weight Watchers last week. (The WW week begins on Sunday, so I missed a week.) I could not fit in a meeting. I had planned to run in to get weighed yesterday. So much for the best laid plans.

I mentioned extremely dry skin on my hands. That’s the topic for another day. I can report on my visit to the dermatologist and the the lifestyle changes I am making because of it.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to get everything done so that I can be provide people with a meaningful Christmas Eve worship experience when all I want to do is go hide in a heated, furnished cave with indoor plumbing, Internet access, and HBO, for about a month. And, please, Lord, no snow on Christmas Eve since I’ll be out there driving in it. Thank You.

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 7:45 AM  Comments (2)  

Snow, Stress, Migraines, and Pedicures

Sounds like a recipe for a Seinfeld episode, doesn’t it? That show used to tie a bunch of seemingly unrelated ideas together and weave them into a brilliant story and hilarious half hour of TV. Well, my life is no TV show, but there are lots of seemingly unrelated pieces that do manage to weave themselves into the story of Barb.

For instance, snow. Yesterday I made a comment on Facebook about the snow that was falling and how pretty the trees look with a thin coating of snow. It’s as if they have a layer of white icing on them. That prompted an exchange with someone in Hungary, a young girl to whom I may be related. I’ve contacted all the other people with my last name on FB and “friended” them. She’s the friendliest of the bunch. Anyway, we have been chatting about snow and what we like about it and the fact that neither of us like sleet or ice. I’m constantly amazed that just 3 years ago, I didn’t know she or any of the other people I’ve met through FB existed. Technology still has the power to wow me.

Technology can also stress me out when things aren’t working. And that brings me to topic number two. Earlier this week, I called an electrician to check out the lighting in my mom and dad’s basement. One circuit of overhead lights wasn’t working and it made a trip down there dangerous for everyone, including the cleaning woman who does their laundry. I thought the problem had been fixed a few weeks before by a handyman, but it recurred. My aunt’s death and Thanksgiving got in the way of my doing anything to rectify the situation. So, on Monday, an electrician was there and found that it was no more than a tripped circuit breaker. Problem solved. Except the lights are out again.

Dad called me last night at 6 P.M. asking for the phone number of the electrician so he could call for them to return to fix the problem. Since it was past closing time, I told him I’d call this morning, before my physical therapy appointment and my hair and pedicure appointment. That satisfied him. Not me, though. I started to stress out about all the things I have to do today – cook a big Weight Watchers breakfast since lunch may not happen, call the electrician, go for blood work, go to therapy, maybe have lunch, go to hair appointment, do several loads of laundry, write this entry, cook a WW-approved dinner, practice for Sunday. Yeah, it stressed me out, especially when I thought that I’d have to run over to see mom and dad between appointments and there really isn’t time in the schedule for that.

So, I cooked and ate the good breakfast – 2-egg omelet with spinach, mushrooms, 1/4 c. reduced fat feta, and a toasted whole wheat pita – and then showered and dressed. While dressing, I saw the aura that means one thing and one thing only: the onset of a migraine. And it is now here. I raced to the kitchen to grab one of the melts I take to help lessen the severity of the headache, but the aura ran its course, followed by the dull headache and nausea. This is the third time since last week I’ve had a migraine and, if this continues, I’ll contact my doctor about changing or increasing my preventative medication.

Which leads me to the pedicure. I don’t really want to smell the nail polish and polish remover and possibly permanent solution or hair dye, but my hair is in need of a cut or at least a good shaping and I am overdo for a pedicure. These are not an indulgence for me. I consider them a necessity. I have difficulty cutting my own toenails, so why not get the fun polish job along with the cutting?

The soak in the warm, swirling water and the foot and leg massage will help ease some of my stress and maybe help with the migraine even if I have to walk to my car in the snow while wearing flip-flops afterward. See, all tied together. Rather Seinfeldian, I think.

Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 9:05 AM  Comments (4)  

The Day After

Today is the day after my aunt’s funeral and I have some time to breathe before I move on to Thanksgiving. Getting through the funeral service was the easy part for me. I just had to play the organ. Oh, I did start to cry a few times, but was able to control it. I was able to do that because my sister and brother-in-law were here to take care of my parents. That was a huge help.

The meal afterward wasn’t as well-attended as my cousins originally thought, so that meant there was a ton of food left over. What that means is that I don’t have to cook for Thanksgiving. Well, not exactly, but I won’t be doing a turkey. Yet another huge help. They gave me about a dozen or so pieces of the chicken, a lot of green beans, and a generous helping of the pasta dish. After sharing that with my folks for their lunch, I have enough for a good meal tomorrow. All I have to do is the pie which really isn’t that much trouble. I have all the ingredients and now the time to put it together.

I am still exhausted from this extended weekend ordeal, but I think I am stronger for having gone through it. I am definitely closer to my sister and brother-in-law who continues to surprise me with his kindness.

Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 7:25 AM  Comments (4)  

Life Got More Complicated

I slept in this morning, read the paper over breakfast, and then cleaned the bathroom before I showered. While I was doing that, my phone rang. It was my cousin calling to tell me that my aunt had died. She was my dad’s last remaining sibling and we hadn’t seen her in about 6 years. She had Alzheimer’s and was in bad shape then. Dad kept wanting to go visit her, but my cousin kept telling him that she would not know him. I was torn between taking him to see her and having to comfort him as he broke down then or dealing with his grief when she passed away. I took the easy way out, but now feel guilty for not going to see her.

Besides the obvious complication of dealing with a death in the family, I will also have to deal with preparing for house guests and practicing for an additional church service. My sister and brother-in-law are coming up for the funeral. My cousin asked me to play for the funeral, which will be difficult because I’ll be crying. Hard to read music when there are tears in your eyes. The preparation for my house guests means cleaning that I hadn’t intended to do just yet. I was going to tackle the major cleaning this week, but have to do it NOW.

The hardest part, of course, was talking to dad about Aunt Ann. He broke down and eventually left the room and took to bed. He is sick (on antibiotics for a chest thing) so that isn’t too unexpected that he’d want to go to bed. But, he was definitely crying when I left. The best thing about my sister coming up, other than seeing her, is that she will be able to sit with dad and mom at the funeral while I’m at the organ.

I realize this post is scattered, but that’s how my mind is right now. Time to sign off and figure out something with the music. Or maybe do the dishes or vacuum or something.

Published in: on November 20, 2010 at 7:23 PM  Comments (4)  

If I Won the Lottery

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s already been a long week. Besides my usual Sunday routine of driving to and from two churches and my mom and dad’s house, I added a Monday morning trip with them to see one of their doctors and, at night, my trip into Pittsburgh for my fibromyalgia study meeting. Yesterday was a rainy day in the area and the rain continued into the early evening, which meant I had to drive in it. I hate driving in rain and dark and, oh yeah, fog.

That’s when I decided that if I ever come into a lot of money, I’ll hire a car and driver. Everyone else seems to want to buy  designer clothing, jewelry, a new house, fancy vacations. Nope, as of yesterday, I’m going with something a friend of mine said many years ago. A car and driver is the ultimate luxury. No more fighting traffic on the parkway. No more worrying about being able to see the road when it’s dark and raining. Just the pleasure of watching the scenery while someone else is at the wheel.

So, what’s your idea of the ultimate luxury?


Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 7:25 PM  Comments (2)  

Trying to Catch Up on Classes and Life

So, today is Friday, and I’m late, again. This schedule thing is hard. So is trying to do all the work that the instructor of the blogging class assigned for this week. But, I have managed to do a couple of things. OK, maybe one, but I did it twice.

I posted to Gather, which is kind of Facebook for adults, that I have a blog up and running and listed the URL. I also went to my rather inactive LinkedIn account and added the URL for the blog to my profile.

But, wait, there’s more. I also have to come up with a contest to run on this blog, schedule it, and run it. And think about inviting guest bloggers who cover the same topic. And, go read and comment on five other blogs on the same topic as mine. The last one seems to be the easiest right now. At least I’ll only be reacting to somebody’s work rather than coming up with my own. I might even make a few on-line friends.

In the meantime, I took yesterday off from life, the universe, and pretty much everything. After a quick run to the grocery store, I stayed in the house all day and, even though I made a brave attempt at starting this assignment, I succumbed to the fatigue brought on by my earlier adventures in doctorland and took a nap. I felt much better for it, and this morning felt I had the energy to get caught up until I found my dead cell phone.

I keep my phone in my purse since it’s not my primary phone. I still use my land line as my main phone. The only problem is that the aide who helps my mother calls me on my cell whenever she needs to get in touch. Did I mention that I also keep the ringer down low or completely off? I like it that way for two reasons. I hate the jarring noise of other people’s phones so it would be hypocritical of me to let mine do the same. I can’t have my phone ringing loudly in the middle of a church service while I’m in the middle of playing a hymn. That means I often forget to turn the sound back on. Which is what happened this week and the reason I missed the two calls she placed to me yesterday.

But I digress. I started charging the phone and then went to make my daily pot of iced tea and toss in a load of laundry. When I came back into the room with the cell, I noticed that there were a couple of voice mail messages on it. I checked and they were from the aide. It seems that when she got there, dad told her his car had been stolen from around the back of the house. Now, he keeps it parked in the garage, and it was there on Wednesday when I was over there to check in on them. This means he must have used his riding mower to cut the grass. He keeps that in the garage, too, and has to move the car to use it.

Dad did not call me about the possibly stolen car. I checked. There were no messages or even hang-ups on my answering machine. The aide said she told him to call the police. He tends not to think of calling them when things happen. I guess he doesn’t want to bother them. Anyway, she left a second voice mail to say that the car had been found in a neighbor’s yard. My theory is that he hadn’t put it in park and hadn’t set the parking brake and it rolled downhill. I have no idea what shape it’s in or how they got it back into the garage. All I know is that I feel, once again, like the worst daughter in the world.

I realize that is unrealistic. I can’t control anything that my parents do, but it seems that these sorts of things happen on the days that I take time for myself. It’s part of why I’m afraid to do that. I just know that if I take the time away to gather my strength, I’m going to end up using all of it and any reserves the next time I’m over there. Almost not worth taking the time off.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, contest. Maybe I should offer a prize to the first person who can come up with a way for me to be in two or more places at once?

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Comments (9)  

Good Intentions

Lately, my life seems to be full of good intentions that never quite get fulfilled. Take, for instance, regular posting to this blog. I am taking a class specifically to help me develop a regular schedule and the discipline to STICK TO IT. Well, we all see how that has turned out so far.

Sometimes, though, life, and by that I mean, my health, gets in the way of those good intentions. If I didn’t mention this earlier, I suffer from fibromyalgia (FMS), a chronic pain and fatigue condition. This week the emphasis was on the word “suffer”. I was in so much pain that I spent the days I didn’t have to drive anywhere heavily (and legally) medicated. I’m thankful that I rarely need this particular medication to manage my symptoms, but when I do need it, I need it. And I needed it this week. Taking it makes it difficult for me to think, and I like to think before I write even if what I end up writing doesn’t always read as if any thought went into it.

The pain finally abated, just in time for me to do some major furniture rearranging in preparation for the delivery of the new furniture on Thursday. Of course, with FMS, I take my time on such things. My doctor’s guidance is 15 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of rest. That way, I can’t overdo it. It means things take a lot longer, but I end up not going into flare on a daily basis.

Today, I plan to finish this post and write a second one that includes info on the blog’s schedule, which is the class assignment. I also plan to do some laundry and practice for church tomorrow. I think I mentioned that I’m the organist for two churches, in two different towns.

Most people rest on the weekends. That’s when I actually work. Or at least intend to.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 7:51 AM  Comments (3)  

Finally in Focus

I finally came up with a title and a focus for my blog thanks to the two classes I am currently taking. One is on blogging basics, the other on keeping a journal for holistic wellness. I believe I need the discipline of both classes to get me to begin writing and keep writing. The intent has always been there, but life seemed to get in the way and before I knew it, years had slipped by. At least Word Press didn’t kick me off the site or delete my previous entries.

Those entries are what helped me focus. I actually came up with the title last year on the occasion of my 60th birthday. Besides wondering if I were twice as untrustworthy (2 times 30) or completely trustworthy again, I also wondered what this, hard to admit, final stage of my life would be like. That got me to thinking of all I was dealing with:

Who will I be when I finally grow up?

How will I cope with my chronic health problems as I age?

How will I cope with my parents’ health problems and eventual deaths?

I read through my earlier posts and found that the primary topic was helping mom and dad cope with the tasks of every day life and the adjustment, at that time, of mom living in skilled nursing and moving to assisted living. She has since moved home, and then back into skilled nursing a few times in the last 2 years. In addition, she has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and has had periodic surgeries for that condition. Dad has had some skin cancer issues and continues to have balance problems. Both are suffering from varying levels of dementia, with mom being the most affected. They still live at home and will not even consider moving to assisted living.

In the past year, I’ve managed to arrange for some help in the home. Someone comes in and helps mom shower twice a week, thus avoiding my one nightmare scenario of finding them lying on top of each other in the shower stall, unable to get up after mom has fallen and dad has slipped trying to help her up. That service is partially paid for by the county’s Area Agency on Aging. The county social worker also helped me set them up for Meals on Wheels, something they insisted they didn’t want because someone once told them that the food was no good. It’s been 9 months now and they like it. The last service is the cleaning woman who comes in once a week. Her services are paid for in full by the Veteran’s Administration, as dad is a disabled WWII vet, Purple Heart and everything.

This means that I don’t have to go over there every day of the week and I don’t have to do a lot of cooking for them. I still do some special things for them, favorite dishes to supplement what MoW supplies. And we go out to lunch on Sunday. I should say, dad and I do, since mom rarely leaves the house anymore. It’s helped me to rest up a bit for when I do go over since there is always something to do.

Let me stop here so I have something to write in future posts. For now, I want to say that this blog will be about my attempt to answer the questions posted above. Along the way, I may share some tips or the URLs of websites or organizations I’ve found to be of help. Believe me, that might come in very handy if you are looking for something on the VA site since it is a bear to navigate. Not at all user-friendly.

I hope I get regular readers, but if I don’t, that’s OK, too. After all, this is first and foremost a blog for me, my health, and I.

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 8:16 AM  Comments (8)  

She’s Back

I don’t even want to look at the date of my last entry. It’s been too long and I am the only one to blame for it. Yes, I have excuses. I’ve been sick, as in bronchitis and pleurisy. There was also a little thing like Christmas to interfere with my writing. Not to mention having company over the holiday and, more recently moving my mother from assisted living back home with dad. All while not feeling 100% and all in lousy weather.  We had mom home for Christmas week. Dad and I picked her up on Sunday, December 23 and had planned to go out to lunch first. But, no, that didn’t happen because we had this monster rainstorm while driving her home. So, instead of all three of us going out, I ended up calling the restaurant, placing a take-out order, and going back out in the rain to pick up the food. Then, of course, I had to clean up (toss the containers and put the dishes in the dishwasher, but still) after we ate. This was after I’d played for church that morning.The next day wasn’t much better.  I had to go to the candlelight service, which meant driving, which meant no codeine cough medicine. I started coughing while the offering was being collected and didn’t stop until part way through the opening of “Silent Night”. Believe me, it was anything but silent while I was hacking up a lung.Then, on Christmas, I had to play for another church. I got through that service without coughing, but felt lousy doing it. Then, I went to visit mom and dad and cook dinner for them. By the time I got home, I was exhausted. Christmas wasn’t over, though, because my sister, her husband, and my nephew came to visit the following day. Fortunately, they were able to do their own housework and they ate most of their meals out. They also understood that I was too sick to do anything with them, so they spent all their time with my parents.I spent most of the next week or so after they left on the couch with books and magazines and the TV remote. I ventured out only to visit the doctor or to pick up my newspaper or my mail. And now, suddenly, it’s January 23 and I don’t know where the past month has gone.  I’m still going to the doctor, later today, in fact, and trying to catch up with everything I haven’t done since around Thanksgiving.  I’ll be writing for the website, Black and White, that “investigates various subjects of public interest”, once we work out a few details. Stay tuned. And, yes, I promise myself to write more often now that I can actually sit at a computer again. 

Published in: on January 23, 2008 at 1:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

It’s Thursday Already!

Where has this week gone? I can’t believe that it’s already Thursday and I’ve accomplished so little, except having a hair appointment, a pedicure, and a major shopping expedition. That’s what I did today. I decided it was time to get a few new things for fall and winter and I ran to the mall for what was going to be a couple of hours. I left at 9:30 a.m. and got home at 3:00 p.m. But, I got a free lunch out of it.

You know those people that always conduct surveys in the mall? Well, I try to avoid them because I usually don’t want to be bothered. This time I gave in and ended up doing a test on a new frozen entree. I had to answer questions about the packaging, the look of the product frozen, and how it looked and tasted once heated up. Since it was lunchtime and I was hungry, I decided to eat it all. It wasn’t the best frozen entree I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t the worst, either. I also signed up to be on their list of people to call for focus groups. Who knows? Maybe I’ll earn a few bucks for giving my opinion on stuff.

Published in: on September 14, 2007 at 1:42 AM  Leave a Comment