Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Going along

 It's been weeks of agony here, folks.  I can not keep food down and I'm nauseous all. the. time.  Yesterday I finally went to the hospital, where they hydrated me with a bag full of vitamins and minerals.  Finding a vein was the hard part, as anyone whose every been dehydrated can tell you.  But they called in "The Man" as I called him, and he took awhile finding one but he triumphed and I was over the moon.

My daughter and son-in-law took turns being with me.  The nurse found a med for nausea that actually worked and allow me to rest for awhile.  Those ER beds are NOT comfortable, and my back was screaming at me.  My SIL dutifully (and lovingly) found ways of stuff a pillow behind me to provide relief.

I'm home now, and hydrated, and a feeling better than I have in days. But I still have a way to go.  I'm down 40 pounds since March 28 and it's been a terrible way to drop weight.  I am confident I will pass through this phase and when I'm on the other side we'll all have a good laugh about it, right?

I just heard on the news about the elementary school shooting in Texas.  Read it in the NY Times.  Not even going to turn on the t.v.  We all know the story too well by now, don't we?  We are a sick country.  Maybe should amend that to say sick politicians, who lack a moral backbone and won't do a damned thing about gun control, even though most of the country wants them to.

I've been tuning out the news and most television, since while being sick, I find I get motion sickness watching the screen.  I'm okay with that.

Looking forward to better days.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Mothers Day/The Role of Women

Two different origin stories on "Mother's Day."  The first one, the one I believe, is told by Heather Cox Richardson.  Women were so appalled at the blood spilled during the Civil war and Franco-Prussian war that they strongly believed that women should take charge of world affairs in the 1870s. The second, in 1908, was created in America to honor women as mothers.  So it has been for one hundred and  fifty years, that women are still largely relegated to their maternal roles and not so much their role as powerful leaders.

Today, on Mother's Day, apostrophe, I was not up to doing anything with the family, so I took it easy at home while they did what they did.

Here's my mother at a tender age.  This was the first Mother's Day without her.  On May 28 of last year, she died of complications of Parkinson's.  My dear friend Robin was the only one of my family or friends to acknowledge this.  She is a good one, that Robin, keeping note of important life passages such as this.

Mom wasn't really a big fan of the day.  She called it "a Hallmark holiday."  But still, we made cards and gave her flowers when we were children.

I trust by this time next year I will be feeling better.  Right now I am still struggling to get nutrition after my bariatric surgery.  I didn't imagine it would be this difficult: no food goes down easy and everything, including water, makes me nauseous.  Still.  Ugh.  I'll meet with the doctor again this week.

For those of you who celebrate the day, I hope you had a lovely one.  For those of you who don't, or are indifferent, I'm there with you.  I'd much prefer it be about women taking over world affairs, especially during these dark and backward times.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Report

How in the WORLD can I still be so flippin' tired?!  I'm too tired to keep my house together, so I do a few tasks before the dizziness and exhaustion take over and I have to sit for awhile.  Being up for about 4 hours at a time is my limit.  

Adequate protein is key...and I'm getting most of mine from shakes, though at this stage I am able to move on to soft foods and crunchy things.  No doughy things like soft bread or pasta or rice, as they will get stuck in the stomach pouch.  I'm so tired tonight I have order some sashimi, edamame and miso soup from my favorite Japanese restaurant.  Hope it all goes down well.  We'll see.

I'm taking my vitamins, and a B12 every day and that should be helping.  

I tell ya, my surgeon would be over here kicking my ass if he knew how I'm behaving.  But what to do when every fiber of your body tells you to LIE DOWN?

It's no joke that right now my JOB is to get protein and fluids down the hatch.  Even if I don't feel like it AT ALL.  I have a support group on line, and I share this info with them.

This lethargy, this absolutely exhaustion, has got to end soon.  It's essential for my success.  I set my alarm for 8 a.m. today, determined that I would get up.  But I had insomnia last night and didn't get to sleep until 4 a.m.  Did I get up?  No.  I slept until noon.  

My daughter said that the surgery was the hard part.  Hardly.  THIS post op stuff is the hard part.  Hopefully I will be able to look back and laugh.  In the meantime, send me all your energy prayers, please.

Oh, by the way, 22 lbs. down.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Longest Journey Begins


Surgery went well and I've been home a week now.   Lots of protein drinks, water, flavored broths, sugar free popsicles and jello.  Some days I feel moderately energetic, most days not.  I'll get there. No hunger at all, which is the major benefit at the moment.

I'm having dreams of riding bikes with friends, over the hills near San Francisco, looking out to the Golden Gate bridge on a windy day and laughing loudly into that wind.  Thinking, "I never thought I'd feel this way again."  Grand exuberance.

So many years ago I was very active with back packing, biking, hiking.  No need for a gymnasium then.  It was all youthful energy and swagger, pounding my chest as the first of the group to make it to a mountain top.  

Age and health have had their way with that. That's just the way of life, and I'm glad I did those things that bring me joy when I remember them.

My goal, my dream, is that this surgery will help bring back all available energy and enthusiasm for getting out and doing whatever I can.  It won't be the body of my teens and twenties for sure, and I'm okay with that.  I have reasonable expectations.  They are a lot more than what I have now.

Monday, March 28, 2022

All My Bags are Packed, I'm Ready to Go.

It's the night and morning of my surgery and I haven't slept a wink.  Nerves.  Can't find my phone, even though I've used it twice today.  Grrrr.  Of course I was exhausted when I got into bed and turned off the light.  Some minutes later the brain switched on, as if I'd had caffeine, and BAM. That was the end of that. My mouth is as dry as the Sahara but I can't drink any water.

All I have to do is throw some stuff into my hospital bag: chap stick, skin lotion, ear plugs, hair and tooth brush.  

I watched a movie on my laptop, as that often helps me fall asleep.  I watched "The Adam Project" on HBO.  Entertaining, with familiar actors.  It didn't put me to sleep.

I'm going to get up and pack my bag and see if that helps me settle down for sleep. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Self Care While Rome Burns

Here I go again.  My bariatric stomach surgery is scheduled for March 28.  I had another bariatric surgery about 17 years ago, and it really helped me lose a lot of weight.  Eventually, though, the stomach band they put in had to be removed and man, oh man, did I put on weight when there was no more restriction.  I've tried over the last 3 years to lose weight the old fashioned way -- unsuccessfully. I mean, 1200 calories a day and a decent exercise program.  Lost 6 pounds over 3 months.  Each time.  Frustrating, much?  I like to say I am very efficient with my calories.  Hang on to each and every one.

I went to the zoo the other day for an outing with my grandson and his dad.  It was a great day, but after two years of relative inactivity, it kicked my butt.  Everything hurt.  Everything.  Reminiscent of the muscle pains after an afternoon of skiing.  I took Tylenol and went to bed exceptionally early.  Woke up feeling pretty danged good.  So I'm not crippled for life.  Whew.

I'm looking forward to shedding weight and exercising more.  Getting my mojo back.  I'm staring down 65 years on planet earth and it's time.  The surgery is a great help, but it doesn't do the work for you.  There are strict rules for eating and hydrating afterward, and getting all your vitamins and minerals.  I'm ready.  Let's see where I am a year from now, eh?

Of course the news out of Ukraine is an anguish for us all.  I search for the good stories there: the people who successfully made it out, the musicians playing in the street for people, the citizens who are yelling at Russian soldiers. Friends of mine in Portugal have taken in a Ukranian family of three, and are housing them until they can find a more permanent home.  They've taken up a fund to help raise money for housing.  I contributed and it feels wonderful to be able to do something.  Anything.

I've also started a monthly donation to the International Rescue Committee.  I didn't realize it was founded by Albert Einstein.  Bravo, sir.

My friend, photojournalist Peter Turnley, and his twin David, are in Ukraine now.  They retired as war correspondents many years ago, but were both called to this war.  They are sending out very moving images.  But honestly, I wish they'd get the hell out.  They have been witnesses to so many horrible wars and conflicts, and survived.  Russia is not only targeting citizens, but the press as well.  I just want them home, safe.

Meanwhile, my life here goes on, and while I feel bogged down by the collective sadness in the world, I know that I have many many blessings.  I will not squander them.  I am thankful every day (albeit some days are a struggle) and do what I can from afar to help those afflicted by this senseless war.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Women Who Were my Role Models

A lovely warm day just ahead of another snow storm.  Bitter cold with more on the way.  I did have a lovely evening with my kids and grandkids tonight, full of silliness and good feelings.

My daughter and son-in-law worked out logistics for my surgery on March 28.  Bariatric surgery to help me lose a lot of weight and (fingers crossed) keep it off.  The is somewhat old hat for me, as I had surgery 17 years ago to do this, but after 10 or so years, the LapBand they put in failed and had to be removed.  Trouble with my insurance company prevented me from getting a new surgery, and I ended up gaining a tremendous amount of weight.  After several years and negotiations with insurance Company, I now have 'permission' to move forward. If you are curious, there's a lot of info on line under Bariatric Bypass surgery.  I don't have the energy to explain it here, but it is the decision I have come to after much research and consultation with my doctors. 

Never too old to address obesity, I say.  I've struggled with it most of my adult life, and I remember when I had the lap band and dropped 109 pounds, I was ecstatic.  I was more healthy and mobile than ever in my adult life.  That's what I want to get back to.  Never too old.  Hope springs eternal.

March 28 is just around the corner. I am shopping for food items I will need in the first weeks after surgery.  And I timed the surgery so that I will be able to fly to California for my parents' service on May 2.  They will be buried on their beloved Monterey Peninsula.  A simple graveside service with family and a few friends who were close to us a children.

I saw my mother through her last days, and through her passing. I couldn't be there for my dad's final days, so it's more difficult to believe he is really gone.  It was so sudden, after all.  He had the stoke, went to the hospital, lingered for a few days and then died.  I also had nothing to do with the cleaning out of their apartment, so I can't imagine it empty of all the things they loved.  When I think of him, he is taking his morning walks, making meals in his kitchen, and enjoying sports on the television from his recliner.  He had a routine he liked very well, and think this routine helped him live longer. (Take note.)

With 5 deaths in 2 and a half years, I'm feeling my mortality keenly.  I'm planning ways that I can live out the rest of my life in ways that make me happy.  If I'm very lucky, I'll live to my early 80s.  That gives me 15 years to live it up to the best of my ability.  Become more mobile and healthy, get in a lot of family and friend time, and travel.  And enjoy my time and the creative arts it has to offer. 

We never know when our expiration date is (said my father) so we should live it up while we can.  Indeed. I am in agreement.  Do you think these sweet girls knew what their lives would be?  My grandmother and her two sisters, around 1920.  I knew them all, when middle and old age was upon them.  They were all pretty jolly until the weight of old age and ill health finally took them all. But even in their old age they were fun, smart, stylish, and doting on their grand children.

I recently had a large print of this made for my home. I want to look at them daily and remind myself how influential they were to me. Brave, educated woman who had children but still very much had their own lives.  So, cheers to you, Nadine, Ama Lou, and Kathleen!  They were also very supportive of my parents marriage, unlike my mother's parents.  

How I wish I could visit with them now.  How very odd that they are no longer with us.  They were a huge presence in my life.

Their fine example caries on with my daughter and her children.  My daughter did know grandmother, and remembers her well.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Peace, Love, and.....

We've had some lovely weather, mild and sunny, and my neighbors and I are crawling out of our dens to welcome the coming of spring.  We're in for more snow, of course, but right now we are blinking at the sunlight and taking our dogs out for a good airing.  Lucy spends the majority of her walks sniffing at the ground.  She can't get enough of it.  Knowing how important their smell sense is to them, I indulge her let her take her time.  I turn my face to the sun and just wait. Of course this all comes with the heartbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I'm limiting my news intake because it is so goddamn awful.  Then I begin to whine about MY issues sand realize that I sound like an asshole.   

Truth be told, I would lie beside that Ukrainian great grandmother and take rifle training.  I'm old,  I've lived my life.  I'd be satisfied going out taking some Russian soldiers with me.  Did you see that 40 mile column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles sitting on the roads to Kiev?  I thought, "why doesn't some country fly over and bomb the shit out of them?"  Because, say the 'experts,' it would start WW III.  Perhaps a nuclear exchange. I've not studied war, and I'd be a terrible strategist.  I just want it all to end and Russian to return home with its tail between its legs.  But that's not going to happen.

I'm imagining all kinds of global crises, like stock markets falling, millions of refugees, countless lives lost.  I really wasn't going to talk about this, really.  Spring is almost here and I want to delight in a sunny day where the birds sing and the blooms send out their wonderful smells.  I'm spent.  Two years of virtual isolation and now this.  No matter what I am scared about, it's nothing compared to the Ukrainian people.  I wish that Russian dictator could be assassinated. I'm not the "Peace, Love, and Doughnuts" person you may think I am.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Idyllic Life

I graduated high school in 1975, in a very liberal town and a loose and free high school.  We had the usual cliques: the athletes, the cheerleaders, and the hippies.  We also had cowboys, who came from the valley near the town and grew up on ranches, riding horses.  We had the uber wealthy who grew up in Pebble Beach and were given Mercedes cars for their 16th birthday.  My first day at this school was my sophomore year and I was hanging out on the stone steps that led to the gym and athletic fields.  A friend whom I had known all my life, scooped me up and ushered me to the main patio, telling me those steps were for "the cowboys."  

I came from Southern California at that point, where the girls dressed like fashion models just to go to school.  It was high stakes.  When we moved to Carmel the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, it was this same friend who looked through my clothes and told me they were completely unsuitable.  She schooled me in hippie chic and got me to trade in my nylon stockings for opaque tights.  Polyester dresses and shirts for cotton, Indian print blouses and skirts.  She pierced my ears (much to my mother's chagrin) and had me wearing hoop earrings.

These fashion choices set the stage for my high school life.  

I hung out with the hippies.  I burned incense in my bedroom.  I did this in order to fit in to my odd little crowd, but I also had friends from athletics, the marching band, the drama folks and the preppies.  In 1974, a group of students and educators approached the school board and asked permission to start an "alternative" high school.  This was the time of the 'back to the land' movement in the U.S. and all things that deviated from the norm.  Amazingly we were granted permission on a trial basis.  We were required to take regular classes in the morning, and the afternoons became an independent study where we could earn equivalent credits for courses in history, biology, etc.  Of course we thought it would be a free for all, which we adored, but it did turn out to be a rigorous course of study that, with our teachers, we designed for ourselves.  In the photos above, I'm there playing my guitar, and the other two images are from our biology class with our teacher Mr. Ralph Kahl walking us through the dissection of a pregnant deer.  Ralph (as we called him) has permission from the park service to retrieve road kill that he found on his way to work. He was quite a character, ala Hunter S. Thompson.  Instead of frogs, we dissected animals he found dead on the road on his drive from Big Sur to Carmel to teach.

There are many good Ralph stories, which I may write about at a later date.  Let's just say, if a teacher today did some of the things he did, they would be fired on the spot.  It was a wild time, and teachers in my high school felt free to be themselves.  They fraternized with students outside of school and they made a point of being our "friend" as well as a teacher.  Many of them helped me immensely when I was depressed and thinking of dropping out.  Carmel had a reputation for celebrating bohemian life and artists, and this continued through my high school days.

I continue to have friends in Carmel and the valley.  It's a unique place that draws many tourists and has become sort of a Disneyland.  I enjoy visiting there very much, but doubt I would ever live there again. But I love to visit, and reminisce, about the very privileged life I led there.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Universe is a Dirty Dog

Oh, I had an evening out on Friday, yes I did.  It was my first time out (other than necessary grocery shopping in months.  I went to see the fabulous Wynton Marsalis Jazz Band at our local Licoln Center   It was a Wynton Marsalis Jazz Band performance at our local Lincoln Center, which is a wonderful concert venue.  I went with my friend Lynn and we had great front seats on the mezzanine. There were people, and lots of them.  The venue was very responsible and required vaccine cards and photo IDs, plus mask wearing.  I had my KF94 with great coverage.  I was ready to take the leap.  

Just as the lights were dimming and the stage lights coming up and our host grabbed the microphone to welcome us all, my insulin pump alerted me to a plunging blood glucose level.  Christ on a bike.  I alerted Lynn and then crawled over the 4 people to my left in order to make my way to the bar for some juice.  I purchased two apple juice and made my way back to my seat just as the band was taking their positions on stage.  Climbing back over my row mates I wondered just how annoyed with me they might be.   I downed my juice after I turned off the insulin spigot and began to settle into the music.  Jaysus, of all times.  What are the odds?  I planned my meal and my insulin dose specifically to avoid this situation.  F*ck my life.  Okay, calm down.  Enjoy the music.  Thirty minutes later my lower intensives began to rumble, as they often do after a hypoglycemic incident.  My mind began to worry I was going to have a bathroom emergency now, as I often do have such an incident.  I don't know why, and no doctor has ever explained why this happens.  Fearing the worst, I waited until the song was over and, apologizing sincerely, crawled back over four people and made it to the ladies just in time.  So I took my time.  Let my body settle and work itself out.  Then when the song ended, I crawled back over four people and took my seat for the last song of the set.  I was mortified, but what was I to do? Next time, I'm choosing my seat to be on the isle if at all possible.

I explained to Lynn so she didn't think I was a freak, and she was very sympathetic.  During the intermission I ordered a whiskey and ginger ale and waited for the warmth of the whiskey to calm my nerves.  Worked like a champ.  I made it through the second set like a rock star.  My blood sugars were back up and I could concentrate on the great music.  And it was great.  It's not usually the kind of jazz I listen to at home because it's horn heavy and gets frenetic.  But watching the band playing together, taking their solos, having a great time, just admiring the talent and experience on stage -- wow.  First Class.

A milestone for me, getting to go out and enjoy a public event with a friend.  It was a joyful experience once I fixed the whole diabetic thing.  Coming through my front door, hanging up my coat and emptying my bag, my phone vibrated.  I opened it up to find a text message notifying me I had been exposed to someone who has tested positive for Covid 19.  A lot of 'blah blah blah' about getting tested in five days and if I hadn't been vaccinated to quarantine until a negative test result.  More than a year ago I signed up for a contact tracing program and this was the first notice I got.

What the hell?  Oh-ho, universe, you dirty dog!  I'm vaxed and boosted and I was wearing my mask, so I'm not overly worried, but I will go get a test on Wednesday.  

The evening, on the whole, was a thrill.  And I've learned my lesson, again, to always carry juice or sugar with me wherever I go, whenever I go, even if I think I'll be fine.  I had lost the habit, not being out much in the world for 2 years.  I should always carry insulin kit supplies and a bottle of the stuff just in case there's a malfunction, or one of the tabs come off my skin that is holding the needle in there.  The pump offers a freedom of sorts, and does do some automatic tasks which help maintain a healthy glucose level, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility to how it works and what to do and have it case you run into a problem.

I am going to another performance at the Lincoln. Center on February 26, and this time I will be well prepared.  Got my kit, my juice from home, my Depends, and a good sense of humor.  I mean, we can't remove people with disabilities from the arts, performances, restaurants and the like.  AND I would not want us to.  I am in that number.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Happy Birthday, Pops

Today is my Dad's birthday.  He would have been ninety years old.  Both he and my mom had a dream visit with me last night, and it was nice and normal.  My sisters and I were getting their old San Diego home ready for the move up north.  At some point, I said to my sisters, "They don't know they're dead."  No, they didn't.  They were just sitting around the living room taking it easy.  All seemed well.  It left me feeling peaceful.

There is one thing I'm doing now that brings me joy.  It's the first time I've felt excited in a long while.  I have an old friend I used to play music with, and his partner and he are touring the midwest this summer and fall.  I know they also do house concerts, so I invited them to do a house concert in my condo's clubhouse and they said, "yes!"  It will be the first time in over a decade I've seen him, and I'll get to meet her as well.  I have no doubt I can fill the clubhouse with music lovers, between my neighbors and my church friends group.  I've been feeling so lackluster, so down in the dumps. but when I started the conversation with them, I got so excited.  Oh my, this is how I remember it.  It's such a terrific feeling to have, excitement. I can actually take action and do something that will make people happy.  We absolutely need 'happy' right now.  Yes, please.

We're under another winter warning beginning tomorrow.  Bring it on.  We need the moisture.  I read recently that California is experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years.  Here in Colorado we've been having a drought for at least a decade and there is no end in sight.  Whatever is going to happen to my beloved California?

My credit card bill came through yesterday, and I've been ordering a lot more Doordash than I thought!!  Ouch!  I'm going to have to cut back on that.  I just have not had the energy or desire to cook for myself.  As a good friend said, "It's good self-care."  That is true, but it's also damned expensive! I'm going to need to snap out of this rut sometime soon.

Snap out of it!

Going along

 It's been weeks of agony here, folks.  I can not keep food down and I'm nauseous all. the. time.  Yesterday I finally went to the h...