Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category


Good morning, Loves. I hope that this entry finds you well, with the same for any animal companions that you may have. A couple of Thursdays ago, we brought our beloved Bombay cat, Luna to our vet.

For a few months she’s had a bump, which we thought was a cyst that cats her age tend to get, on her left hind-quarters that broke through the skin, in part because she fussed at it, but it ended up growing to become about the width of a silver dollar and almost an inch thick. It was often filled with little blood pockets that needed to be drained, but it always seemed kind of healed.

At one point, the middle of it was extremely soft, formed a little hole, and drained some blood, but it was thick and starting to clot. I cleaned it, and it seemed okay. Then a couple of weeks later, after keeping the area clean and sterile, the area needed to drain again and instead of blood a hole appeared in the center and it drained at least a few tablespoons of what looked like pus. But it wasn’t really.

I feel terrible that we didn’t take her to the vet right then. Unfortunately, money played a part in putting things off. I rationalized it for weeks. Luna seemed to feel fine. She was eating normally, it seemed; and behaved like she always has, it seemed. She sassed when it was time to clean the wound. It healed over, sort of. It would scab. But the cyst never went away. Pieces of it started to fall away, and that was a sign that things weren’t well at all.

And then over the course of a week and a half I noticed, and so did Bunny, that the wound wasn’t healing over. Either she was fussing at it and making it worse, or it had simply stopped healing. The entire cyst was bare of skin and scabs, and not healing over. Luna’s attitude wasn’t sassy so much as,

“HEY! GET OFF MY LAWN!”

Not only that, but the hole that had been healed over reopened and it was white. We thought it was pus, but it was the cyst. I continued to keep it clean, but that last week before we finally took her to see the vet it began to smell bad and it was as if it was falling apart. She was also feeling pain and was beginning to limp; it was most obvious seeing her walk upstairs. We finally were able to take her to the vet on Thursday, August 23rd.

As soon as the vet saw her he knew it was Necrotic Cancer. Luckily it’s only on her skin and not attached to bone, muscle, tendon, or anything else. He suggested surgery for today, but let us think about it since our finances have been hit hard over the past year or two, and we’ve been struggling. However, the vet called Friday morning and told us that while the surgery is her very best chance of survival, she needed the surgery the very following Monday.

As soon as we heard all of this, it felt as if my heart stopped. I felt relief in knowing what was wrong, and hearing she had great odds. At the same time, incredible stress at the “what ifs.”

There was never a question about getting it done. There was a question about how to pay. I detest GFM, and yet I found myself starting one for her, and I’ve been using that as a sort of blog therapy regarding Luna. All this time, I forgot I HAVE a blog where I could share the Go Fund Me, ha ha. Initially we were quoted $2,000. We told the vet how much of a struggle that would be financially. He knocked off some of the things that weren’t essential, and that helped. Then during the surgery, due to Luna’s size and what they actually used and needed there, they brought the cost down some more. We brought it down to $1,000 on the Go Fund Me, to try to help defray costs and pay for the CareCredit.

I hope that you’ll check it out at this link here, maybe share it and help us out. If you feel inclined, a donation would be helpful even if it’s only $5 or $1.00. I promise, we’re not anything like those people who defrauded that poor homeless man. That sort of behavior is appalling, and I’m thankful they were caught. I know it makes people wary of trusting, and I understand that too. Thank you.

Saving Luna From Necrotic Cancer – Go Fund Me Link – Click Here

We’re so very lucky that Luna had a successful surgery. We’re so lucky she’s been healing well. She hates, hates, hates her antibiotic with the passion of a thousand exploding suns. Twice a day. But her personality, her real one, is back. She’s doing her catwalk all over the house again, and happy to go up and down the stairs. She’s sassy and silly, versus grumpy old lady. Well, the antibiotic dosing makes her grumpy and she can hold a grudge, but still. Forgiveness with a snuggle and a treat. I think back, and realize how unlike herself she really was. She was still Luna, but a grumpy and muted version of herself, clearly in pain.

If I could do it over, I’d take her to the vet before the tumor became necrotic. I’m grateful we still have her, but we almost didn’t.

Snuggle your pets. Take their weird bumps to get looked at. They might be nothing, and it’s better to pay a $65 visit for reassurance that it’s nothing than a $1,000 – 2,500 surgery for something deadly.

But you know what? Not once did the staff or vet ever make us feel guilty that we didn’t take Luna in sooner. The vet said I did the right thing in keeping her clean, and noting when things changed dramatically. I thought that was kind. We did what we could when we could, and even though it stings the pride, we’re asking for help with the funding. I still feel guilty, but I don’t think Luna holds it against me.

The truth is that when it comes to our animal companions, they trust us to care for them to the best of our ability. Sometimes, our ability is a little lacking. The same can be said when it comes to other things in life. We’re not perfect pet parents. We’re not perfect mothers, fathers, friends, sons, daughters, grandchildren, employees, supervisors, teachers, police, doctors, but we all do our very best. We have these ideals in mind, saying we’ll “always” or we’d “never” but the fact is that the only thing we can really do is promise to do our best with our best intentions.

With that, love to you.

 

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Do you have siblings?

I do. I have two brothers, both younger. BroOne, who has two daughters, is two years younger than I am. BroTwo, who has two sons, is ten years younger than I am. Yes… I’m the eldest. In case you haven’t been able to tell from my writing over the years and my parenting style, I’m an eldest child.

Are you close to your siblings?

When I was growing up, I wasn’t close to BroOne but I was loyal to him. We had a lot of sibling rivalry, which I’m sure my shrink would say is due to the fact that we’re two years apart. [NOTE: That’s what she says is the reason my lovely Dear Girl has rivalous feelings towards Sweet Girl and Darling Girl. SIDE NOTE 2: Eldest of mine, Dear Girl and I chatted, and she shall henceforth be known as Bunny. That is all] We fought constantly as kids. My mom tells this story, which I remember because I was so distressed: I was little and he was a baby. I had this amazing little musical carousel for little kids, and it was one of my favorite toys. It ranked up there with Barbie dolls. We’re talking serious child currency, here. Well, my mom played the musical carousel for my tiny brother and I was devastated she took my toy and “gave” it to him without asking. I took it back, hefted it under one arm, and stomped down the stairs declaring the whole way down that it wasy MY toy, NOT my brother’s, and he wasn’t allowed to touch it. My mom didn’t do that again. She asked to share other toys that had less value to me after that, ha ha. I think that set the tone for our entire childhood and majority of our teen years.

We, BroOne and I, began to fight less frequently in high school. I think it’s because we were both out of the house less, and a lot of our friends were siblings to each other. There was always loyalty, though. We may have driven my mother up and down every wall in the house due to our constant fighting and bickering, but when it mattered we were loyal to each other. I hated seeing him in serious trouble, so I started to protect him at home when I could. Once, I locked him out of the house when my parents were out and he was so angry with me he tried to kick the door in. It was a wood door, and getting old, and it cracked in a few places. We had to press the door back into place but the cracks were huge. We found wood glue, filled them in, and then found wood stain to match it to the door. It was a bonding moment. Ha, see what I did there? Wenever told my parents until I told my mom after they were planning to replace that door. She still couldn’t tell the door had been essentially broken since I was 14/15 years old.

And of course, no one could bully him in school. No one. I’ve always been anti-bully, but to family? Oh no.

We got a lot closer when he met his now-wife. We’re close enough now that he’s Godfather to two of my daughters; I’m Godmother to both of his daughters. I have a great relationship with his wife, and always have. She’s an incredible woman, wife, and mother. I envy her in a lot of ways. I’ll bet she’d be shocked to know that. That said, we have a lot of things in common in our lives including health issues, but mostly in our views on life and parenting. I would do anything for BroOne and SisOne. Their girls are like my own daughters. People say that, but having daughters of my own, I know what that love feels like.

I think I was closer to BroTwo when we were younger. Since he was born when I was a skinny little ten year old girl, and I was thrilled to have a baby in the house, I helped take care of him. I didn’t even mind most nights when he woke up to be fed and changed; I would change him and warm his bottle so my mom could feed him. Sometimes I would feed him myself during the night, just snuggling on my bed. I begged to have him in my room. His crib was in my room until he was three years old. I learned how to care for a baby, and as he got older I learned to babysit during the summers. I loved it. We had a rough couple of years, which I believe I blogged about at one point. We have a much, much better relationship now, but it’s not like it was. We’re still working on it, finding the balance. I’m not sure he feels the distance, but what’s really good is that since his boys were born it’s been easier to relate to his wife. I love them, I love those boys. I love spending time with them. They’re generous and BroTwo is Godfather to Bunny. That’s important to me.

Do you visit your siblings often?

We try to visit with them as often as we can. We live about 18 miles away from my brothers, and around the same from our parents. When we bought our house, we were in a stage where we needed some physical space from the family where no one could simply drop in without calling first. It’s different when family lives anywhere between 2-to-6 miles away. Now, 14 years later, we miss that closeness. I think part of it has to do with the fact that my brothers both have children, and also miss getting to see my nieces and nephews from my Spousal Unit’s side more often too.

I never thought, growing up, that I would feel a need to be physically close to all of our siblings. I guess we’re lucky that they’re only about 20 minutes or so away, for the most part. One of my husband’s sisters lives about 40 minutes away. They’re all in state, so there’s that. We mostly see each other at my parents’ house but that may be changing. We also see each other for events we might host at a restaurant or something, or another family member does.

Do you babysit your siblings’ children?

Most often, when I do babysit, it’s BroTwo’s and SisOne’s girls. Recently, Darling Girl [my youngest, 13 years old] and I went to BroTwo’s house to babysit all four Littles. Both of my brothers and their wives had an event to attend, and it made sense. GoddaughterOne is seven years old now, so she’s not quite so little, but her sister, GoddaughterTwo is three years old. NephewFour [we have three nephews on my husband’s side of the family] is also three years old, and his little brother, NephewFive is two years old.

My brothers left pizza and we had a lot of [tiring] fun that evening. It had been awhile since I’d cared for multiple toddlers before; not since my best friend’s children were toddlers at the same time Bunny and Sweet Girl were toddlers.

While watching the kids, I was thankfully able to use the ladies’ room due to having brought my youngest daughter. LIFE HACK: When you babysit multiple toddlers, limit your fluids that evening.

BroTwo has crucifixes on nearly every wall in his home, and images of Jesus on several walls. He’s very, very dedicated and passionate in his Faith. He has several statues around the house too. Upstairs he has a beautiful, simple, distraction-free prayer room.

While in the ladies’ room, I noticed one or two religious inspirational quotes sticky-noted to the mirror. One says, “God, Others, Self,” which is kind of nice.

As a child, whenever my parents or the priest during homily or my CCD teachers would say,

“God is always watching you; Jesus knows your heart and is always watching,”

I would always, always get nervous not because I have something to hide but because I wanted to ask if that included showering and using the toilet and changing my clothes. Therefore…. The statue of Jesus on the window sill of my brother’s bathroom gives me heebie jeebies.

Sigh.

Jesus Statue, image from Amazon

Jesus, with a kind, loving expression on his face, one hand raised to his Sacred Heart and the other palm facing outward, is facing the toilet most often; sometimes the shower. I swear the eyes on that statue, that particular statue have a mischievous glint in them. He knows what I’m about to do, and it’s like He’s daring me. Or maybe He’s begging me, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Based on stories told about him in the Bible, and stories Jesus told, I know Jesus had/has a sense of humor. Plus, if he would never force his way into anyone’s home to witness, he’d never, ever force his way into someone’s toilet.

Just sayin’.

So I take up the dare.

Every time I’m in the bathroom, I turn Jesus to face out the window to get a nice view of the trees and creek in the yard. I love Jesus and all, but I doubt he really wants to see me peeing. I say a quick prayer when I turn Jesus.

“Hi Jesus, it’s me, Jessica. But you know that. You’re Jesus. So hey, here goes.

Dear Jesus,

Most holy, he who sacrifeced his life so that we could have eternal life in Heaven, I have the utmost respect for you. My brother has this statue of you in his bathroom. Please don’t be offended when I turn it away from the toilet. I know you’re not in the statue, but it feels like a privacy thing. I’m sure you can understand. Toileting stuff probably isn’t even your thing anyway. I apologize for any offense I may have caused you. You’re still awesome.

Amen

P.S. I love you

Double Amen

And every time I come over, there’s Jesus facing the toilet. Again.

And every single time, I get the overwhelming feeling that I have to turn Jesus away from the toilet. I’m not turning away from Jesus. No, no I’m not. I’m turning Jesus away from something he doesn’t need to see. I stay out of Jesus’ toileting business, he can stay out of mine.

I finally admitted it to my brother when we were about to leave after babysitting. He chuckled. So I’mma keep on doing it.

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It’s apparently breaking news as of last night? by the New York Times that Donald Trump knew two weeks prior to his inauguration that Russia interfered in the election in order to make sure he would be elected; with the express permission and direction of Dictator Putin. He knew that it was done so that the election would turn out in his favor. Every single time he has said he didn’t believe there was election interference, he lied. Every time he has said there was, “No colluuuuuuusion,” it was a lie. Every time he lies, it’s obstruction and for that matter, a cover-up.

If you’ve followed or read my blog for the past two or three years, you know that none of this is breaking news to me. Maybe some of you thought I was a little paranoid. 😉 That’s okay. Plenty of people don’t listen to anything I say, thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m used to it. I live in Connecticut, after all. I mean, we may bleed Blue for the most part but we also just had a guy on a dairy farm just get kicked in the head by a cow. And the news anchor had to make sure to say,

“He did suffer serious head injuries, but no information on his condition.”

Yes, he would since he was kicked in the head by a cow. Being in his 20’s wouldn’t keep him from avoiding serious head injuries.

I wish I could say that the things that have been leaking out, and the indictments, subpoenas, plea deals, have been vindicating. The problem is that we’re still stuck with a treacherous guttersnipe in the Oval Office. The problem is that I didn’t want to be right.

I never, ever wanted to be right. I wanted to be proven wrong. I want every single elected official we ever have to succeed, especially a duly elected president. Hell, even a president that was inserted by Russians… I was in a position where I felt forced to “give him a chance.” I wanted him to succeed. I promise, that’s the truth.

Giving someone a chance doesn’t ever mean ignoring the truth. It doesn’t mean ignoring what you already know about someone. It means giving someone a chance with a healthy skepticism and a willingness to continue to ask questions and research and fact check in order to protect yourself and others.

Investigating the election fraud and other crimes stemming from it isn’t about, “being unable to let go of Mrs. Clinton not winning the election.” It’s about the undermining of our election, our democracy, our Republic and the fact that one of the candidates in the election… the candidate that did end up in the Oval Office… was part of the tampering. He encouraged, took part in, and continued to take part in espionage.

I think the scramble by the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Lindsey Graham, hell even Sean Spicer to rehabilitate Trump’s current Russian joint presser statement into something means the opposite of what he actually said is a clear indication that he meant what he said. He has always said that he doesn’t need or want other people to explain what he says because he always says what he means. And that presser? That was clearly scripted. He knew what he was saying. He was proud of himself. He was smug. The damage control is something that I’m sure Trump doesn’t even believe needs to be done.

Again… he’s told us who he is, so why don’t people believe him when he shows us?

This is not Democratics vs Republicans vs Independents vs Green Party. It’s about willingness to side with truth and justice, patriotism and America, or willingness to side with a traitor and not care about the lies and treason in favor of a larger, damaging agenda. It’s also about voting vs non-voting.

At this point, it’s also about whether people are reformed Trump voters. I’m not touching Republican, specifically because I know people of all political affiliations voted for him. I’m not touching GOP either. And yes, I’m making a very wide line between Republicans and GOP. Because the GOP has become the tool of the Tea Party. What Conservative stands for now is a warped stance of conservativism. I’m a recovering Republican, so I know. I’m heartbroken over what’s happened to the party as a whole.

That’s a whole different blog entry.

I don’t have hard feelings for the voters at this point because voting has been effecting change in special elections everywhere. I also have hope for November 2018 midterm elections. I believe that most people are good. I believe that people vote with hope in their hearts.

There’s still hope. We have a free press and freedom of speech. The First Amendment is our most important Amendment of all. Which reminds me, if you haven’t already, download a free copy of the United States Constitution. It’s so, so very important. It’s law that’s higher than the Oval Office.

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Image from Zimbio

Doctor Who: The Doctor, Jodie Whittaker

Have you ever had a wonderful doctor that you actually recommend to people because you genuinely feel they’re splendid in their job?

They’re the kind of doctor who keeps up on their specialty and know what they’re talking about. They have a great bedside manner. The kind of doctor who is willing, and even encourages back and forth dialogue. The kind of doctor that you want to hug during emotional moments, and on the way out of the appointment.

They even have excellent office staff, nurses, medical assistants, and APRNs. How often does that trifecta happen?

How often do you really get to keep that sort of doctor? Whenever I have this type of Wonder Doctor, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. Whenever I tell other people about my Wonder Doctor/s I can see the initial look of doubt on the face of the person I’m telling.

The more I mention my Wonder Doctor/s the more it seems they’re actually more elusive than *loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, and unqualified love. 😉

In very early December I called the office of my pain management and spine specialist doctor. I needed to confirm my upcoming appointment and let them know I needed refills prior to the appointment since we misjudged the timing during scheduling the last time I was in the office. The nurse answering the phone said,

Oh… you didn’t get the letter?

Um, no?

And I didn’t call you? You were on my list my call, I could have sworn.

Well, no, James [name has been changed to protect Todd] you didn’t call and I didn’t get a letter (nervous laugh). You’re starting to worry me.

I’m so embarrassed (really, really nervous laugh from James). Doctor Awesomesauce is leaving the practice. I swear a letter went out, but sometimes … I’m so sorry you didn’t get a copy.

And that’s when I burst out crying while on the phone, and apologized to James.

I’m so sorry you found out this way.

Can you tell me why she’s leaving? Is she going to a different practice?

She’s not. She loves this place, but while her family is still young and her child/ren is/are small she wants to be sure to be there as they grow. It’s very important to her.

I understand that. I was a stay at home parent for years, and am one again. (wipes snot and tears) I wish her well, but of course I have to be selfish for a moment. Will you be moving to the new doctor’s office?

No, unfortunately. Thank you for asking, you’re the first.

Sure. You guys have been great. Are you able to tell me who’s taking over the practice?

We don’t know who’s replacing her yet, but it’ll be a few months. It shouldn’t be past March, however someone will call you sooner than that. If not, you should, um… get a letter. With, um, all of the contact information for the new doctor.

NOTE: I did not get a call. Nor did I get a letter. Shocker, right?

I did get my usual 3-month refill for my daily medication, and single month refill for Tramadol. That helped ease some anxiety.

She was my White Rabbit of Wonder Doctors. When I got off the phone with “James” I cried for what felt like hours. Deep, sobbing, grieving cries. Much of it was because of what I described above, and much of it was because this I felt out of control. I felt anxious from not knowing who would be taking over the practice, and not knowing when that would occur. That was a rough, impossible weekend.

Throughout December, January, and February I called the number listed on the practice’s web site for Pain Management and Spine Specialist section. It directed me to my old doctor’s phone number, so I left messages there letting them know I was still interested in setting up an appointment with the new doctor. The longer I went without knowing anything, the more anxious I felt. In March I started to panic when my prescription for my daily medication reached two weeks. When I reached only a few days it was full blown anxiety attacks, especially since my pain levels have been increasing versus simply being a flare up.

I called my primary care doctor at that point and explained the situation. She was the one who referred me to Wonder Doctor in the first place, especially as friends in and out of the practice. She insisted on an in-office appointment so I complied and went in the next day. Of course we talked about my pain levels, which she keeps close track of along with the rest of my health, and updated all of my medications as we do every appointment. We had to remove the Zoloft since I was getting over a severe allergic reaction.

She agreed to give a one-time refill on my Gabapentin/Neurontin, which not only helps the Fibromyalgia but the myofascial pain, carpal tunnel, and osteoarthritis. She then asked me if I expected a refill on Tramadol. I hadn’t asked for one since I had been without it since mid-February after stretching it out. I tend to try to stretch it out for emergencies, but got yelled at by my pain doctor for that since she said it’s not managing my pain properly. No pain medication taken daily can relieve more than 25-to-45% of chronic pain, and that’s why Tramadol when used properly is given to take 2X a day 12 hours apart with the exception of specific, special instructions for, well, exceptions. When I explained what Wonder Doctor and I discussed and usually did, and how I handled Tramadol, she looked through the shared notes on the system and saw I wasn’t lying. She called in Tramadol too.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really, really love my PCP. Since at least as early as 2004. I’m still waiting for the other shoe on her to drop. ::sigh::

When I went to the reception nurse to check on my next appointment, she gave me the number for the new Pain Management and Orthopaedic Specialist taking over Now SAHM Doctor and set up and appointment for me for two weeks later. That was early-ish April. I prepared myself for a doctor who would be like my first Rheumatologist.

He’s young, tall, seems to know his stuff regarding my medical issues, and he’s open to back and forth discussion. He’s open to continued research. He’s open to discussing how alternative therapies can help support relieve pain so that any pain medication I take is at minimal dosage. After that appointment, we had a check-in two weeks later since we adjusted my meds and got results from a urine test. At that appointment we both agreed to continue treatment, and both signed the contract regarding opioid use and other pain med usage, how to behave in the office, how to use (or not use) alcohol and other drugs, how to approach ERs and hospital visits, how to approach other doctors, etc. He’s really, really thorough.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If that shoe does drop, I’ll have to remember that when God closes one door he always opens a window*.

 

*Full quote with thanks from  John Grogan:
Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to human.

*2 I’m sorry not sorry for mixing metaphors. 😉

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Navel Gazing, found on zuco.org

It’s been ages since I’ve talked about headlines. The news cycle went from weekly to daily. Now it seems to have gone to hourly half of the week. When I turn off all technology for an afternoon and evening, or even a full day, that’s the day that I miss several seemingly-important headlines.

Even when I don’t miss a day or two, the trick is really figuring out which headlines are the important ones. Sifting through them can be an emotionally draining chore. No one really talks about that part, do they. I appreciate having the comprehension ability to understand it out on my own. I appreciate being able to sort the facts from the exaggerations. I’m grateful for knowing how to research what I learn in order to prove or disprove what I’ve learned. I never take anything at face value. I always consider the source.

I also always make sure I have enough coffee. That’s the other trick. The comfort-food aspect makes a difference. Why? Because so much of the news is anxiety-inducing, sad, angering, upsetting. It’s important to find wholesome news and stories; uplifting and inspiring images. We need to do more than inform our brains. We need to positively feed our emotions. We need to educate ourselves, too.

I enjoy learning about new scientific discoveries. It’s exciting learning about our space programs. Finding new animals and plants is fun. I’m not beyond looking up recipes, either. 😉  I love to be able to share these things with my family.

We have to stay balanced. The headlines can’t become everything.

I know I sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but let me be clear here: I recognize that sometimes I’m wrong. ::gasp::  Oh, please, it’s not like I haven’t admitted that before.I know it seems odd but I needed to purge this before I could continue with anything else. It’s a self-affirmation I needed to see in writing.

 

 

 

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I have a lot of thoughts that are combating the issue of palliative care regarding in-the-home versus in nursing homes. In the early-ish part of the summer we received the news that a nursing care home finally had an opening for both of my grandparents. I should clarify that the “finally” part is really due to the fact that it took a long time for them… well, I should clarify that “them” is really my grandfather agreed to the move and my grandmother threw the mother of all tantrums, but relented. Once my father and uncles made the decision for my grandparents, and once they informed my grandparents, it only took a month or so for a health care facility to open up space for them.

There was relief in this. A lot of relief, actually. The fact that they would have on-site 24-hour nursing care and a doctor on staff. Their doctor would be on call. Emergency care would be available instantly as needed. There are a couple of hospitals within minutes from the nursing home, if needed.

As soon as they moved in, my grandfather felt relief. He could see that he really wasn’t able to take care of her any longer. That was hard for him. Not being able to pick her up when she fell was something that had been normal for a long time, but the emergency paramedics finally told them that unless she agreed (or he forced her) to go to the hospital when they called 9-1-1 and she was clearly injured (she was) then they were going to stop coming to the house for her. Whenever he fell, he knew enough to go to the hospital. So that was the tipping point.

I spent my summer with the girls, off work and visiting my grandparents as they adjusted and took turns with one being upset at being there and the other saying how wonderful it was. Yeah. Being in your 90’s and married for 70 years can be like that.

A week ago we held a party for my grandparents at the nursing home for their 70th wedding anniversary, and it was beautiful. My grandmother looked beautiful. She held her rosary the whole time. As I was growing up, and let’s face it her entire life and mine since at 40-something I still feel as if I’m growing up, she always put herself last. She always put all of her focus on the person who was in front of her. She made everyone in that room feel special, and so when they came for her and my grandfather’s anniversary, they made sure that she felt special.

She wasn’t quite herself, and I could see that. The entire week prior, she’d been declining. Her mood shifted. She started seeing hallucinations. Night time was the worst. She hadn’t slept for two or three nights, and so the day before the party, when I visited, they made sure she slept. She was in a great mood for the party, but something had changed. She knew who we all were and why we were there but she heard music that we couldn’t. She asked and talked about odd things, for her.

And then this past week things got worse. My grandfather and uncle swore to me yesterday that she wouldn’t recognize me, but she did. She couldn’t move much, but when I held her hand she held it back as much as she was able, and even lifted it to point at my youngest daughter when she wanted to see her. She would pucker her mouth and move towards us when she wanted kisses. The whole time since being in the nursing home, that’s all she’s wanted, is kisses.

They swore she wouldn’t understand anything we said to her, but she did. She tried to talk to me, so I told her about my girls and my husband, how school and work were for them and how much I’m enjoying being a stay at home mom again. I knew she wanted to know about my pain levels too, but I avoided that topic. I told her that I finally prayed for what she had asked me to pay for, for her and that I’d done so at Church yesterday morning right before coming. She blinked a few tears and tried to nod, leaned for kiss, and I cried. I told her that I prayed for it even though I didn’t want it, because I know she needs it and she’s ready, and because I love her. I told her that I love her no matter what, and that I’ll be okay, that the entire family will be okay and she can let go.

We stayed, Darling Girl and I, for hours with her. It was very difficult to leave. We let the nurses know we were leaving, and then we saw my grandfather coming down the hall from his room with a priest trailing behind him. He told me that the priest just got there, and could I please stay. This was their parish priest. He was there for Last Rites.

So of course I stayed. We stayed. I held her hand. When she saw her priest, she gasped and said his name after not being able to speak for a few days. My grandfather was shocked because he had been 100% sure that she didn’t… couldn’t recognize anyone and nor could she understand what anyone said. It was beautiful from start to finish, and I never thought it could be. Maybe it was beautiful because it’s what she wanted.

Now it’s Monday morning, and my Darling Girl is sad. This is making her think about when my husband’s father passed away four or five years ago. It’s very similar, but she didn’t understand what was happening then. She told me this morning on the way to school that she’s remembering what happened to her Nonnu, but with a new understanding and so she’s feeling the experience of his death all over again as her great-grandmother is dying.

What she’s having trouble understanding is how my grandmother could be choosing to refuse to accept her medications, even the pain meds; how she could be choosing to refuse to accept any food or water. At 12 1/2 years old she knows how long a person can without food, and without water. I don’t know how to explain that to her, how a lifelong devout Catholic could choose, in her mid-90’s, to stop it all and to leave directions for the nurses, doctors, and family to refrain from any extreme lifesaving measures. It’s not rational to my daughter. I told her that as much pain as her great-grandmother is in from her illnesses, she’s in far more pain when she eats and drinks because her insides don’t work as well any longer, and she wants the pain to end. That didn’t satisfy her, and I know that nothing will. It sounds weak in my ears too.

Also this morning, Sweet Girl was having a really difficult time. She asked me last night to explain what was going on. She was more angry about getting up than usual, and complaining about everything that’s ever made her angry. I nearly lost my temper with her, and when I realized that my temper was shorter than usual I knew it was because of my sadness and the anxiety of the vigil. I realized my mistake, shifted gears and told her I recognized how sad she must be, and she could visit with me after school but that I won’t force her. She finally managed to cry, sad crying, and it seemed a relief to her to be able to identify with words what was wrong.

Dearest Girl, my eldest, turned 17 yesterday. She was amazing about me spending the day with my grandmother. She seems to be holding up well on the outside. In that way, she’s a lot like me. Being the eldest, like me, it’s natural. I know that she knows she can talk to me; she will when she needs to talk.

I don’t know how to do this. It just feels as if I’m doing it all wrong.

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That moment when, even though you feel guilty for multiple reasons, you do something that changes your entire life.

I turned in my resignation. I did it. I did it with a letter. This time, my boss didn’t try to convince me to stay after our long discussion. This time, she understood. 15 months ago, she convinced me to stay, “just until the annual meeting,” and I promised that I would. I guaranteed her those three months, and then, “we’d talk again.”

This time, when I turned in my resignation, she had already announced her own retirement.

I have five days left, including today, and I promised I would finish up my notes for my files. I hope that I can. I promised I’d stay an extra day or two if I couldn’t finish up by my last day. I’m a sucker. I really am. I don’t know why I didn’t just keep up with my notes as I went along.

Yes I do, that’s a lie. It’s because there’s been so much work piled up with my consumers and at some point, it was the paperwork that took the hit. Now I’m paying for it. It’s okay, I’m not taking new people on. I’m wrapping up and passing my people on to coworkers because that’s the way it goes here.

So today, there’s a Board Meeting. It’s a mostly-new board with a brand new Board Chairman and he’s pretty awesome. He’s got a lot of energy and brings a lot to the table. I forget how it came about, but at the annual meeting he ended up offering to buy me a cup of iced coffee as an apology for something, and I forgot today was the board meeting so he chastised me for not e-mailing him with my favored coffee flavor. I told him, then hedged, and told him that Friday is my last day because he offered to bring the coffee next week. He seemed genuinely bothered, so I explained about my health and current family concerns, but how much I love the agency and the people I work with. He asked if there was anything the board could do to keep me here and stated that if I change my mind after a period of time I’d be welcome back any time. I told him that meant a lot to me and I’d keep it in mind.

That was kind of awesome.

Now I only have to worry about getting my SSDI application completed, and waiting three months or so for them to respond with an approval. But I have to actually stop working first. I’m nervous. I’m really nervous. This whole thing is a huge life decision. It changes my life, my husband’s life, and that of my children. I realize that it also affects the work place that I’m leaving.

I have to be selfish this one time. I have to listen to my body and my family. I can even take this as a chance to talk to my daughters about how this choice still fits in with being a feminist.

It’s time to do this. The rest of my life is about to begin.

 

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