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.