Belated Christmas Blessings to One and All

The reality of the work I had to do the week before Christmas came crashing down on me and before I knew it, Christmas came, went, and now I’m super-late in posting. The week was extra-busy because I had to play for another funeral at church. One of my dad’s golfing buddies and a member of the congregation passed away the Sunday before Christmas. The funeral was last Wednesday, which meant the part of the week I had planned to do baking and cleaning was, instead, devoted to taking dad to the viewing, doing things for them, taking him to the funeral. On top of that, my hands were still giving me problems – dry, cracked skin. That meant limited time practicing for Christmas Eve services.

Christmas Eve day was busy for me. I cooked everything we would be eating on Christmas day and practiced like crazy. Then, after a quick check of the weather and traffic, headed off for service number one. It was at the church that is usually number two on Sundays, so it was nice to have the time to actually set up the organ the way I wanted it set up and to run through some stuff beforehand. I think the congregation was pleased with my selection of a simplified version of the Hallelujah Chorus as postlude. The minister wasn’t so sure when I told him I’d be doing that because Christmas Eve services usually end with a candle lighting ceremony and the carol Silent Night. But, we’d already sung three lively carols in the service with lots of alleluias/glorias in them, so I figured that if I waited just a bit after the lights came on and then HIT IT, it would work. To my surprise and delight, several members of the congregation began to sing along. I was my own little flash mob!

Then, pastor and I drove, separately, to church number two for the second service. It was a bit calmer. I was bone-tired and he was hoarse. This was his sixth and final time for this service that day, so no wonder his voice was giving out. My fingers were really sore by the time I hit the last chords and I was ready to make the trek home.

The next morning, I packed all the food I’d made the day before into my car, picked dad up for church, and then, after church, unloaded the car and made lunch for the three of us. After cleaning up, I packed the leftovers up and headed home to prepare for the following day’s services. At least I did not have to play on Christmas Day. But it felt weird to sit in the congregation instead of at the organ.

I am now awaiting the return of my sister and brother-in-law. They are spelling me on visits to mom and dad for a day or two and then it’s on me again. I’m taking full advantage by cramming in as many things as I can – clothing donations to Goodwill, catching up on some reading, doing this blog entry. What I really need, though, is a few days of sleep.

Just in case I don’t get to write an entry on Thursday, I’ll take the time to wish everyone who reads this a very Happy and Healthy 2011!

Published in: on December 28, 2010 at 1:29 PM  Comments (1)  

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)  

Today Is My Aunt’s Funeral

We will bury my aunt today. Yesterday was extremely hard. Dad was devastated at seeing her, but I think he enjoyed seeing all the relatives. I plan to write an actual update later today, unless I fall asleep as soon as sit down after arriving home today.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 5:56 AM  Leave a Comment  

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)  

My Shoulder Diagnosis

I saw the orthopedic surgeon yesterday, and got some good news. There is no obvious tear, but there is some damage. I have a bone spur and some calcification. The pain is tendonitis. I got a cortisone shot which wasn’t as painful as the others I’ve had in the past. And, it helped quite a bit. So much so that I went shopping and carried my purchases in my right hand, which hurt, but which I was able to do. Of course, by the time I got home, the shoulder was pretty sore and I had to ice it. That’s why I waited till today to post this. I also have to start physical therapy.

All this means that I will be making Thanksgiving dinner and playing the organ for Thanksgiving morning, regular Sunday services, mid-week Advent services, and two more services on Christmas Eve. Then, there is going to church on Christmas day, cooking for mom and dad, and then playing for regular Sunday services the following morning. I’m tired just thinking about it. But, that schedule had me completely stressed out because I had no idea how I’d manage it all in pain. Or how I’d get through it if I had to have surgery and there was no one to take me to and from the hospital and to help with my rehab. Now, I’m just under the stress I normally feel when I sit down and think about my life.

Since I have to run over to see mom and dad, I am going to cut this short. I’ll be posting something else later today or tomorrow, something more on topic, I hope.

Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 10:10 AM  Comments (4)  

Lessons in Frustration

I wasn’t planning on writing about this, but circumstances overtook intentions. I was going to focus solely on the pain in my shoulder. After all, I have yet to see the doctor about that and, after a normal weekend, it is bad again. Driving to two churches and playing for two services really ramped up the pain. But, instead of being able to rest it, I had other things I had to do.

Hence, the frustration. My dad had been harping on the need to take his care for an oil change and a check up. What that meant was he wanted me to call someone and make him an appointment to do that. So I did. He was scheduled to be at the Honda dealer at 9 A.M. yesterday morning. On Sunday afternoon while I was visiting, I asked if he’d like to drive the car to the dealership and leave it there so it would be done by Monday afternoon. He said that he’d remember to go in the morning.

Monday at noon, just as I was getting ready to start cooking my lunch, tummy growling in anticipation, the phone rang. Guess who? Guess who was ready to take his car to the dealer for the oil change, etc? Guess who wanted me to go along? So, instead of eating lunch, I got into my car, drove to their house, drove to the dealership with dad following me (he didn’t remember where it was), drove him back home, and drove myself home. I ate lunch three hours later, at 3 P.M.

Last night was the next to last session of my fibromyalgia/stress relief study group. My arm/shoulder was killing me by this time, but I was determined to go because I like these women and I think that, if I actually practiced some of these techniques faithfully, they would help with my pain levels. But, I did not want to drive in the dark with a sore shoulder. I ended up going and, although I spent the entire evening in pain, I did enjoy myself.

I got home, did some unwinding, and went to bed. At 2 A.M. my phone rang. It was dad. He wanted to know when we were going to get his car. I explained to him that it was the middle of the night and that I have a doctor appointment in the morning (all true) and would not be able to help him till the afternoon. Of course, I’d told him that yesterday when I dropped him off at his house. It turns out that he called me five times last night while I was at my fibromyalgia group meeting. I didn’t get home till 9 P.M. and since I was so tired and sore, I didn’t check my answering machine. If I had, I might have been able to prevent this middle of the night phone call, but maybe not.

All I want to do now is scream at the top of my lungs or whine to whoever will listen and even to anyone who won’t. I’m tired. I’m in pain. I don’t have it in me to care for others right now because I need to care for me and yet this is my dad and my mom. They raised me. They did for me when I wasn’t able to do for myself. I don’t believe I have the right to refuse them.

Next up, the report from the orthopedic surgeon and what it means for Thanksgiving and beyond.

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 7:09 AM  Comments (2)  

Favoring One Side Has Consequences

The other day, I whined about my sore shoulder. Well, I finally contacted the doctor and he suggested that I see the orthopedic surgeon who did my knee surgery last year. The reasoning behind this decision was my description of what happened when the pain first began. I told the doctor that the pain was intense, a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, and that I heard noises when I did whatever it was I did. I also told him that it’s been waking me up at night and has interfered with my daily life. He thinks I may have torn something. I won’t know till next week since that’s when I have my appointment, but at least I have one.

So, here’s what I mean by my heading. I was cleaning stuff out of the fridge. I had some spaghetti sauce from last week and decided that I’d better toss it. As I was carrying it across the room it fell out of my hand and landed right side up. Nothing spilled. I was extremely glad since my kitchen is mostly white. I got out a spoon and took the container and the spoon to the garbage can to dump it. That’s when it spilled. I laughed so hard I nearly cried.

Not sure what this teaches me, but the laughter sure helped to ease some of the pain. I guess it is the best medicine.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 3:38 PM  Comments (2)  

Election Day

It’s finally here! Election Day, and I’m thrilled. Not because I’m excited about the election, but because I’m excited to see an end to the barrage of political ads on TV and in my mail box. This year has been the worst in recent memory. Just a constant stream of vitriol from both the right and the left. The ads made normally enjoyable programming unbearable. They also made using the DVR a necessity. It was the only way to avoid the ads.

Think of the money that was spent on those ads. Now think what else that money could have been used for. Research into cures for diseases. Research into energy alternatives. Feeding the hungry. Housing the homeless.

If you had access to the funds used for the ads, how would you use them?

By the way, I realize this is completely off topic, but, then, I’m feeling a little off today.


Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 12:51 PM  Comments (1)  

Meditation on a Painting

Last week’s assignment for the journaling class I’m taking was to write a short essay on an emotion evoked by the Edward Hooper painting, Hotel Room.  I thought I’d share what I came up with since it does touch on my focus of my blog.

The emotions I listed are :







Here is what I wrote:

I had to do it. There was no other way out of the situation. It was all too overwhelming. So, rather than stay there and continue to spiral into depression, I left. Now that I’m away, I am re-thinking that decision.

But if I don’t take some time for myself, I’ll crack and be no good to anyone. I need to find new ways to help myself and in turn, help my parents. Looking for that help while coping with the situation and maintaining my own house and health has me in such a state that I can’t think anymore. I can barely function.

Day after day I go check on them. Every day it’s the same thing. Mom’s sitting in her chair in the corner, covered with an afghan, watching TV, whether or not it’s working and no matter what’s on. Dad, if he is home, is trying to fix the TV, meaning turn it up and running. He always blames it on the TV, which is not even a year old. The problem is either that he’s misplaced the remote or he is trying to use the wrong one. Once I find the remote, I show him, yet again, how to turn on both the cable box and the TV using the single remote. Every time, he tells me he didn’t know that. Some days, I just want to scream.

So, I left. Now I’m worried that they’ll fall or set their house on fire. But, I need space and time to think and to find the answers. Maybe something will come to me while I sit here in this hotel room as I contemplate what to do next. Or maybe not.

Published in: on October 28, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Comments (2)