Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 - Already Moving Too Fast!

I can't believe that the first month of 2018 is already half over.   Honestly, time just seems to move faster all the time.   It has been lovely here in mid Michigan, but cold.
Thanks to those of you who reached out to ask about my Sweetie.   He is doing so well, recovering still from his strokes, but a casual observer who didn't know him would never know there had ever been anything wrong.   We are told that one of his strokes was of a type that used to be considered an automatic game changer, and the stroke neurologist said they have only recently realized that some people, for some unknown reason, recover from them without great impairment.   My lucky Honey is one of those whose brains are able to heal, and we are both grateful for that.   His vision is still badly limited, he still tires more than he'd like, and there is still some very minimal change of balance, but he looks dashing with his new cane, and life -- although very different than we planned or expected -- is better than we had any reason to dare expect a couple of months ago.

I have gotten some sewing done since things have settled down with him.  For Christmas, my Sweetie got me an accuquilt cutter, something I would never have thought to want.  He had limited shopping and thinking options, so I was impressed, and his intention was to help me in two ways -- first, I have troubles with my hands and wrists, so rotary cutting (especially accurate rotary cutting) is a challenge to me, and second, I have a stash of fabric that is taking over my  house, so he thought this might be a good way to help me get through some of that.   It has been a pretty effective gift on both counts, and I've already completed two 'flimsy' quilt tops that I will send out to be quilted, and I've started a third.   The only trouble is that I am sorely tempted to buy fabric for my next top rather than continue to use my stash -- free fabric, anyone?   I'll be happy to send it on to anyone who wants to quilt or make small projects with it!

I also finished a lovely Victorian Motto Sampler that I ordered while he was actually still on the surgical table, and just need to find a frame before it will be truly done.
Also for Christmas, my kids got us an Instant Pot, another thing I never would have thought to want, despite its cult following.   But I've been having fun with it, and have already made some pretty amazing short ribs and a butter chicken that is every bit as good as that from my local Indian restaurant!   Our annual season of  Dominoes Sundays have begun so I'll have lots of chances to try new recipes, and I'm looking forward to making Instant Pot wings for Super-bowl Sunday, whenever that is.   Our Dominoes buddy is a football fan, but I am clueless.   All I care about is the menu!

We've had snow pretty steadily this winter.  Despite that, I was happy to finally get out this week for my first haircut and first pedicure since before the November surgery.   My guy is so sweet, he cleaned off my car and warmed it up before I left, but he couldn't save my toes from the snow!   The older I get, the harder the winters seem, but I am grateful for hot soup and someone to cuddle with.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you are warm!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Coughing In The New Year

It was 18 below zero the other night.   Our high temperatures are breaking the records for our low temperature.   This has been a brutal couple of weeks all over the country.   The past six weeks of burning the candle at both ends has caught up with me and I've come down with some kind of flu-like crud.   Or maybe eating sugar over the holidays is what made me vulnerable to this nasty virus.   Whatever the cause, all I have done for the past four days is cough and sleep.     Being too sick even to sew has been frustrating.

I have been spending most of my time at my fella's house but when I realized I was getting sick I came back to my own house to try to avoid passing this onto my sweetie.    This morning, though, he started to show signs of a cold.   Fingers crossed that he doesn't get the cough part of whatever this is, because those headaches return to him too easily and too often.   We will see the stroke neurologist later this week and have another MRI done and I am hoping that it will show a lot of healing.   I wonder how long it will be before we both relax a little -- I know it has not happened yet.

Although 2017 was a largely "meh" year for me, it was not a bad one for me personally until my guy's strokes.   And now I am both frustrated at that negative event of the year, which the surgeon said was caused by an error in blood thinners, but also truly grateful that things were not far worse.    I am glad to see this year go and am hoping that 2018 will bring us back into the ordinary.   At our ages, I know that is a lot to ask, but it is my new year's hope.  

I wish you the best of all things as this year ends, and hope 2018 will be gentle to all of us.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Moving Forward

I went into November with a long list of projects to have completed by Christmas, and I started off pretty well.  I made a few pair of leggings and a scarf or two.   Life intervened and not much has gotten done since that first flurry of activity, and I'm okay with just letting a lot of it go.   Truth is, it has always been a lot more important to me to make gifts than it has been to the people receiving them, most of them have never used or even commented about the stuff afterward.  

Meanwhile -- and yes, this will sound random, but bear with me -- I recently heard an author talk about her book on infidelity.   I was only half listening because that is not an issue in my life right now, thank goodness.   But she made the comment that, when something like that happens, a couple needs to renegotiate their relationship entirely if they are going to be successful.   Even little things that they might have considered long settled -- who pays the bills, who buys the groceries -- are up for reconsideration when there has been a betrayal.   The author then said that the same reasoning applies to any betrayal, and later pointed out that her parents, Holocaust survivors, had been betrayed "by humanity" and that they, too, had needed to renegotiate their lives and their place in the world going forward.   It struck a chord with me.   I realized that my honey and I are in the process of renegotiating our places in the now less familiar world and our roles as part of a couple as a result of the "betrayal" of his stroke.    It has opened up a whole conversation for us that I think will make us feel more in control of things going forward.

And in that vein, as I renegotiate who I am and what I would like in life, I am trying to learn to be more selfish this Christmas.   I had my first quilt quilted and bound and instead of giving it away as I had planned, I am going to keep it, trying to create the cozy comfort that my soul craves these days.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Brutally Cold And Tired With A Chance Of Whining: an Indulgence

Seven degrees tonight and windy, and we're under a winter storm watch for an expected 3 to 5 inches of snow.   Need I say more?

Life has changed for both of us since my sweetie's stroke.   We were in the hospital for about a week that felt like decades, where he went from death's door to feeling well enough to just want to be home.   Once home, of course, I could see that there was, and is, still a lot of healing to do.   His strokes were in the cerebellum and occipital areas of the brain, affecting vision and balance.   The balance deficit seems, so far, to be quite mild, although he appreciates the comfort of a cane now.   The vision is more complicated, and he has lost 50-60%, the entire right field of view, in both eyes.  We understood when we brought him home that some things would be out of the question for now, things like driving and reading, and we felt fortunate.  

But I don't think we realized how taxing this has been on his body, and we are finding that he sleeps for hours and hours, remaining alert for only a few, sometimes only a couple, hours at a time.    He needs dark and quiet.   This is not a time for serious discussions, even though this is a time when serious things need to be decided.  If he does more than a little talking or visiting, the headaches - that were debilitating at the start - begin to return.    His goal now is to not take pain medication during the day, and the only way to accomplish that so far is to sleep for much of it.  His mood remains good, his nature remains sweet, and I am well aware that we dodged a lot of bullets in this event.  And although I don't always sound that way, I am grateful.

So it is truly not a time for me to indulge in whining, but for equally true, I am feeling whiney.   We have always had fun together, we enjoy many of the same things, and we just enjoy being together.  We spent virtually all of our free time together and have for several years.  When he was healthy, he didn't want to consider living together.   That's not entirely true, he sometimes mused that at a different point in our lives it would have been a good option.   We fantasized about traveling the country in a van, or a train, or an RV.   But at our ages, with our individual houses full of the evidence of those years, and with him having an unemployed, struggling adult child at home, he considered it unthinkable.   And marriage, he was very clear, was out of the question.   I was okay with that.   It meant giving up a few dreams of my own, but I was pretty much happy enough that it wasn't a big deal.  

Of slightly more concern to me was his attitude about our place in each other's family.  We both, of course, adore our own.   And I guess that for me loving and including a person's family is a part of loving that person.   He's included me for five years in every family celebration he can, and I've embraced his family.    But he has been invited to all the same of my family events and has attended few . .  what?   maybe three?    Maybe a couple more, but the emphasis is on few.   He expresses frequent frustration at not having grandchildren, but it was always clear that he had little time for my adored Grands.    And so I have always commuted, both metaphorically and physically, between his life and mine, a real-world 50 mile round trip.  I figured it was a fair trade off.   I enjoy being with him, we were not trying to merge our lives, and I made myself available for my own peeps whenever my family wanted to get together.

But now I am at his house every day and every night.  The holidays complicate things, of course, because with plans and orders made long ago, I have packages delivered at my home 45 minutes away almost daily.   And my family will be at my house the day after Christmas, where I will take my turn at hosting our dinner and celebration for siblings and nephew and all our littles.  So there is cleaning and menu planning and decorating to do.

Meanwhile, of course, I am cleaning his house, scrambling to help his kids when they run out of gas, cooking the meals, arranging doctor visits and keeping track of medications, shoveling.    None of it rocket science, none of it a problem, except that of course there is never time enough to do it all and there is no end in sight.  

Not surprisingly, I am tired and sad, and I can't share my feelings with my bestie because he needs calm and quiet right now.   I am also a little confused, I guess.   He suddenly wants the kind of relationship that he had no interest in before, and I can't help but wonder if that is something he truly wants or just his vulnerability talking.   And, as I gave these ideas up long ago, I have no idea what I want, or whether I would want it under these circumstances.

Right before the stroke, he looked at me from his hospital bed and said 'you are so beautiful.'   He is not a flowery guy and it was a surprise to hear it.  Sweet.   But later he remarked that he was so happy that he told me that when he did, and that he still remembered how I 'just glowed,' which made me question the truth of it and wonder if the occipital stroke was beginning even then.  

When he got home, on the first night, he gathered his children and announced that we were going to move in together.  I had to finally ask him whether he thought we had discussed it, since his assumption was a huge surprise to me.    It's equally clear that he never gave anyone in his life any hint that he felt that way about me; his twin told  me just a couple of months ago that she knew we were "just dating."   And when his extended family wants to know how he is or what he needs, they ask his daughter, and she gives her best answers, just as one might expect with a single father.   It's not unreasonable for them to assume that since we were "just dating," his daughter is the expert.  (As a side note, the extended family has not asked about me, and frankly, that just hurts.)   His kids have been appreciative of my help, but it's clear that they also expect it.      I've been his helper and sidekick for a very long time.   So I don't trust the truth of his new feelings, and I'm pretty sure I can't trust mine either.  

Make no mistake, despite the cautions from my siblings, this is a committed relationship for me and I have no inclination to change that.  But silly as it seems,  I also don't want my love story to read "he wasn't all that  interested and then he had a stroke and she looked really good to him."     I know that this is not a time for any big changes or discussions.  I am too tired to figure things out and too tired not to vent.  So I reckon I'll just keep driving back and forth and try not to listen to the tired talking in my head.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

It's funny, I always felt sorry for people who have to work on Thanksgiving.   But this year, sitting in an ICU room with my sweetie, I have a slightly different perspective.    I have watched today's staff loading the elevators with roasters and turkeys and pumpkin pie, laughing with their friends.   From where I am sitting today, they are looking pretty good.   For us, things have not gotten worse, and the hospital Starbucks stayed open for a couple of hours this morning.    Maybe it's good to be reminded that there is always something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Storms of November

It has been cold here, but beautiful.   We've had snow several times, but none of it has really accumulated yet, and I am happy for that.   I love seeing it outside my windows, but driving in it is not much fun.
November is my most favorite and least favorite month.   This is the month I will turn 68, so perhaps it is no surprise that it has been filled with mixed feelings.   I am, after all, happy to be alive and healthy, but have to admit that I am not all that thrilled to be older than dirt.   Still, it seems to be the best option offered to me at the moment.
Like all months, this one has been filling up with good and not so good events.   In the good news column, I won a cute little cat-shaped needle threader from Barb at Cat Patches!    I love winning things, and this is super cute.  And since Barb and her husband are busy traveling the country in their RV, it was especially nice of her to take the time to send it.

In the Search and Rescue world, we have been called out a few times but haven't had to do much since the missing persons have been quickly, and safely found.   That is very good, but it means that our Team isn't getting much of a work out.   And when they are not busy, they tend to get needy and cranky.   Human nature, perhaps, but it makes me wonder whether our little org can survive.  Especially now that my sweetie, our group's founder, has had some health problems.  He is the glue.

He was scheduled for his surgery last week.   We live over two hours of driving away from the hospital, and they had us come down a day early for tests.   Aside from the need to pay for a hotel, it sounded like a simple plan, but between a broken CT machine and incompetent lab workers, it turned into an all-day adventure between two affiliate hospitals.   To add insult to injury, by the time we showed up on time for the surgery the next day, my honey had been, at their orders, without food or drink for 16 hours.   They let us sit for another 3 hours and then announced that the surgery had been postponed until next week.   Two days of endless waiting rooms.
Although we do understand that things happen, and they did tell us what some of those 'things' were, it was awfully frustrating.    So yesterday, a week later, we drove back down to try the whole adventure again, hoping that every step of the process will go well on the second go-round.   This time the orders have changed, and suddenly it's okay for him to drink until two hours before the surgery, making us wonder why he had to fast for so long last time.   Medical stuff is just plain annoying when it is not terrifying.

I can't help but be nervous -- even routine heart surgery is scary, especially when the heart involved is precious to you -- but I also don't want my nerves to show.   Maybe I'll plan to freak out later after I know everything is okay.   Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room, on pins and needles again, waiting to see whether the surgery will happen -- last night my honey developed a cold and chest congestion, so we are waiting to see whether they will take him today as scheduled or bump him again to some future date and have us haul our fannies back down again.    Again, he can't eat until we know what's happening.   I feel bad about eating when he can't, so I'm tucking bananas and fruit bars and nuts into my bag so that I can eat when, if, they take him to surgery.   Fortunately, we both have lots of extra padding to tide us over.  No danger of either of us wasting away over just a couple of days.

The drive down this time was a little different because this week I am driving a rental car.  This past weekend, a guy in a hurry ran a stop sign today and smashed my car as I was driving by.  And yes, there is good news there, too.   No one was hurt and it wasn't my fault, and I'm grateful on both counts!   As my sister most helpfully pointed out to me, at my age we all assume that anything that goes wrong was probably caused by some sort of senior-moment, so I admit to being a tiny bit relieved that the younger driver was the one who messed up.  The local Santa Parade was going on at the time of the accident and maybe I am secretly hoping the other driver ends up on the Naughty List, although I guess that's naughty of me.  Aside from the cost, sigh, the downside of the rental is that it is small, a Chevy Volt, which is about the size I like to drive, but I am a little concerned about the idea of my post-surgical, very tall honey getting in and out of it when he is feeling puny.

Enough of that.  On the sewing front, I made my first pair of leggings, using fabric that I already had in my stash.   Several of my peeps like to wear Lula-you-know-who leggings so I decided to try my hand at sewing a pair for one of them and she loves them.  Not only that, she actually wears them!   This was the quickest sew I've done in years, which always makes a project fun.  I'll be cutting out a few more pair this week and whipping up a few to give as Christmas gifts.  I hope the next few pair are as successful as the first pair was.
It looks like I'll be doing more embroidery, too, because my honey bought another Babylock machine for me to use while I'm at his house helping out during his recovery.    Hopefully I'll finally get some of that Christmas sewing done, although I hope his recovery is quick and smooth    I have a stack of napkins and towels to embroider, and I thought it would be fun to try some embroidered quilt blocks.

And in family news, my grandson turned into a teenager this weekend -- 13 years old, how the time has flown by!   He is still the joy of my existence, nothing is more important than family.      Family, love, health; these are the things I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving week, and every week.    

*Footnote.   Surgery is in progress.   It will be good to be able to observe this day through a rear view mirror, all the more reason to expect a happy, even if turkey-less, Thanksgiving.  :)

**Update.   Although the surgery went well, he later had two strokes and has lost the right field of vision.   It is a waiting game now, to see whether anything else happens, or whether he will stabilize and be able to go home.   Not until after Thanksgiving, though; we will spend it in the hospital,  thankful that things aren't worse.   Wishing you all the best.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sugar Fast

It looks like Fall here in Mid-Michigan, the trees are seriously starting to turn colors and the fields are dotted with orange pumpkins.  But it is hotter than blazes, with several days in a row now at and above 90 degrees.   We are not hot weather people here, and don't appreciate it much.   Even the specter of cold and ice just around the corner aren't enough to make me enjoy this much heat. It makes me think with real concern of all the people who are suffering from the recent storms and floods and fires, who don't have electricity right now, or water or basic sanitation, no matter the temperatures.  And since I am a follower of Science and a believer in climate change, I fear for all of us and believe these problems will only get worse.

But on my local front, we are fortunate, indeed.   My biggest recent problem is that I am going to a wedding, my Honey's sister is getting married, and I STILL have nothing to wear.    On an unrelated/related note, my Sweetie is having a cardiac ablation in November, and his physician asked him -- and me, as a support person -- to give up processed sugar until after the surgery.   So I have not had any intentional processed sugar since early August.   I am sure some sugar has slipped in since we do eat out from time to time, but even there we are avoiding sauces and dressings and of course, no desserts.   At home I am carefully reading labels and paring my diet to the raw essentials.   (Dry red wine, you will be happy to learn, does not contain processed sugar.  My fella doesn't drink and so normally I go months without it, but it is likely to become my greatest solace as this sugar deprivation goes on.)  

You would think I would be wasting away but alas, no.   I've lost only a few pounds, and I SWEAR, as I try on dress after dress after dress in anticipation of the coming wedding, that I am actually getting fatter.  I don't do sleeveless, I have no waistline, the litany of defects seems overwhelming lately.   So, despite my understanding that this is not a big deal and that I am fortunate indeed, these are grim times in this old gal's household.  I've bought eight, yes, 8, dresses so far, and hate them all.  I add to them every few days and try them all on every freaking morning.   I have about a week left, and more shopping time (I hate shopping) to put in before I choose the least hateful one.  And then begins the equally dreadful chore of returning the rest.    Oh how I suffer.

Other than that, thank goodness, things are just ducky.   I am sewing and volunteering and enjoying my Grands.   Truly, except when I have to dress up, life is good.