Yesterday, a week ago, Nick thought he was dying.
I did, too.
But thank God and good doctors and support of his kids and caring neighbors, Nick lives to be quiet and then drop a zinger that makes people laugh.
He lived for another trip to Blowing Rock.
It has been a hot and cranky summer. Little rain, big water bills, and a rain dance or too, that involved a pool. I will not say if it were Nick or I, who did the pole dance. But I bet you could guess.
It was mountain type of day. Nick had rested all week and he was ready to see something different. Mountains. They have always been an elixir in our life. Some people love the beach. We love the mountains.
There was a buoyancy in the car that hadn’t been there for a long time. We played music. Nick didn’t even mind my opera. Pavarotti. Three Tenors. Me, screeching.
We didn’t stay long at Blowing Rock. I think we wanted to see if it was still there.
Oh gosh, there is my woodpecker. I love birds with long peckers.
I think I scared him with that remark. He flew back into the woods.
We walked just a bit in Blowing Rock and had to decide if we wanted to eat lunch in a restaurant or pick up a pizza from Mellow Mushroom and take it to the mountain lake that is covered in places, with water lilies, has a wide walking path, and makes you feel free and healthy.
We got the pizza and drove to the park. We ate by the car and thenNikc got his walking stick out that I bought him a few weeks ago at McDowellNature Preserve. I got out my walking sticks that I haven’t used since last summer.
And we hit the trail.
Nick has not been able to do this for a long time. His walking is mostly in shuffling steps. But since his episode last week, and treatment with strong antibiotics, he walks better. He still isn’t strong and he has to watch his balance, but he can move.
We walked toward what had been a fish hatcheries, but now, only has water and some crawdads.
Nick sat on benches or rock walls, to rest. I bopped along with my camera and found things to shoot.
We talked about a neat-o tree and the lilies and I pointed out things that others, without a camera, not see. That is the thing about taking photos … you look for what others might miss.
I played with settings and chatted-up a couple of passers-by.
We didn’t go far in distance, but we went an eternity away from where we were last weekend.
The drive home was delightful. Nick shut his eyes and rested and I drove along in silence. No opera. No lalalalala screeching from my throat.
It was great fun being a wife yesterday. Nick had a delightful time. Bonus time.
And now, I shall go make some scones, tend my diminishing garden, fold clothes and do whatever I have to do to live in gratitude.
Because we just never know.
It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.
The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.
The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.
Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.
Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.
Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.
Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.
Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.
I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.
The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.
The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.
We are just being.
I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.
Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.
There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”
OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.
It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.
I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.
Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.
There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.
You know what got me though the last few days?
The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.
Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.
My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.
But I clapped and they are gone.
A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.
I love it whenI am wrong.
You think about it, but try to get such thoughts out of your mind. Middle of the night calls or emergencies.
On Friday morning at 3:30 a.m., Nick had to use the restroom. but he couldn’t. He couldn’t lift his body up off of the bed. He had no strength, was dazed, yet needed to go. He asked me to help him. I tried to lift him and finally, got him to sort of sit up. But it took all of my might. He couldn’t stand for a moment, but then leaned on me to get up, took a few really wonky steps … he didn’t make it to the restroom, and I could barely get him back on the bed.
“I’m going to call 911, I said.”
“No,wait a bit,” which meant, no, don’t do that.
I looked at him and listened to him for about 30 seconds and said, “I’m calling.”
Winston was on the bed sleeping.
I unlocked the front door, threw some clothes on ad stayed with Nick. He just couldn’t move and was getting worse.
After the ambulance arrived, I grabbed his medicine. I forgot about his medical cards.
Winston was excited to see the EMTs.
The EMTs and I talked about which ER to take him. In Cincinnati, I would have known. Down here, no.
They mentioned one that was close. Not an in-patient hospital, but the said he would be transferred to a hospital from there, if necessary.
I had to make decisions of whether to call the kids or someone. I called my son who lives in town. I had to have someone to stop me from feeling that I had been sling spotted into an orbit of no return.
I watched Nick be wheeled out on the gurney, unable to control his muscles and with no strength. Was it the Parkinson’s, a stroke, what?
I didn’t even remember getting to the ER, but on the way, I did think, geese, what are all of these people doing on the road.
At the ER, I got in to see Nick right away. He was scared. HIs blood pressure very high He really couldn’t talk. At that point, my son came. I called one of my daughters in Ohio and my son in Ohio. I didn’t call our youngest daughter because because I wanted to know what we were detailing with and it was the middle of the night, and I feared she would go to pieces. Even in an emergency, you have to think, think, think of how this will play out with your family.
A woman came into the ER. I said, “Do you know if the doctor has seen him?”
“I am the doctor,” she said.
I felt like an ass assuming it would be a man. Middle of the night thinking.
She said that she noticed what she thought was cellulitis on his lover leg. She bowed me how large of an area it was, how red and how hot. I had not seen it and Nick had not mentioned anything.
The last couple of days he said that he didn’t feel well, and he laid down to rest more. He also didn’t eat much. I told him he probably had the bug I had earlier in the week.
Me and my “bugs’. That is what I call an everything I get that is just a malaise, nausea, sleepiness, whatever.
They drew lots of blood and hooked him up to an IV with fluids. The doctor said he might have beginning sepsis.
Now, I am pretty knowledgeable on medical things. I have always had an interest and read lots of medical material. But I really didn’t know much about cellulitis, except it was a inflammation of the skin. Sepsis, was never on my horizon.
They arranged to send NIck to a hospital. The one that was closest was full. The next was Downton.
Let me backtrack. When I told my son that dad was sick and I had called ER, I asked if he could call his neighbor and friend who is a doctor. I hated being unconnected down here. I wanted and needed a point person for Nick so that he wouldn’t get lost in the system.
While they were assessing Nick,my son was on the phone with his friend who was working at a downtown hospital. He told Benhe would arrange a bed and that if we wanted, he would oversee Nick’s care and bring in the specialists, if necessary. My relief was great.
Nick was transported to the hospital, which was towards Uptown and a 40 minute drive.
As I drove, I felt scared and as if my life was collapsing. Nick and my family are my life, as they are many of us.
My daughter called and said she would be on a 1 o’clock flight.
Soon after we got to the hospital, my son’s doctor friend was in Nick’s room, examining him.
Although weaker from Parkinson’s, Nick has always sustained a certain degree of strength, fortitude and determination. Even through cancer and radiation and heavy duty chemo, he was strong.
The doctor suspected it was the cellulitis that might be beginning stage of sepsis, but the blood test results took 48 hours. But he was going to treat him as if he had it, anyway, because the signs were there.
Nick was put on two very strong antibiotics. He moaned and couldn’t get comfortable and was restless and filled with anxiety.
He was hot. The only thing that soothed him was if I rubbed his head and arms with a cool rag. So that is what I did.
A neurologist came and examined Nick and said he didn’t see signs of a stroke. He thought, as did the other doctor, that the infection had been brewing for a while and had taken over Nick’s system and caused the Parkinson’s to really go to town. They also believed that after the infection was taken care of, there was a good chance that Nick would return pretty close to his Parkinso’s level as before. Hopefully.
That is when I called my youngest daughter. Although upset and scared, she handled the news because we had information.
Our daughter who arrived and came to the hospital, saw Nick and passed what she saw onto her brother in Ohio. He decided that he should come down.
It is hard not to pretend not to be a basket case. I was very worried about NIck. I was in turmoil because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to have to handle. Worst case scenarios went through my mind that hadn’t had good sleep. I saw the cup as half empty and cracking.
Sleep that night was pretty much nonexistent as the cot they had was brought in from the Tower of London Department of Torture.
But I didn’t want to leave Nick. And it is good I didn’t. He needed my reassurance and cool rag rubs. My word, every hour the were drawing bloodd and taking vitals and things beeped and were just a mess.
I was officially loopy from lack of sleep.
When I have sleep, I can deal, am not a wimp and can’t make decisions. But I was glad my kids were here to help figure things out and to reassure me. I felt weak and I hate that. It is so hard to see Nick in such shape. But my kids? They stepped up. There was nothing but love in that hospital room.
It really bothered me that they saw me so wimpy and scared. And, I was a mess. I was going to wash my hair the morning Nick got sick. I looked like hell.
The amazing thing is, the antibiotics worked fast. Nick’s numbers returned to normal, quickly, including his blood pressure. He still felt awful, but he began to understand what he had and that treatment was being done.
The next night, even Nick told me to go get sleep. Our son said he would stay all night. He also said he could sleep anywhere, so I thought that cot wouldn’t bother him.
My daughter and I went home. She was exhausted and stressed and wonderful. Her life is busy, yet, she dropped everything to be here to help. She got pizza and I took a much needed shower and went to bed.
Nick’s numbers had improved so much that he was going to be released on Sunday. I was still not sure how this would play out. What if Nick couldn’t walk or make it to the bathroom? Over a couple of nights, things had changed. Was I strong enough? Where would I get help? What if I had to lift him, which I can’t do?
Fortunately, on Saturday afternoon, the physical therapist came. Nick could get up. He walked with a walker, down the hall. He went to the restroom. WEak and he needed some assistance. But he did it.
My stomach and heart felt relief.The what ifs left my head when I was told that the doctor had ordered home health assistance. People would come and check on Nick and his progress and provide physical therapy.
It turned everything around. The kids from Ohio rearranged their flights to go home Sunday evening, after we got Nick released, home and settled.
Nick had started bossing me around, so I knew things might return to close next to normal, or at least, doable.
As soon as we got home, the three kids and and my daughter-in-law and tewo of our grandkids came to the house. One had bought barbecue. Nick ate a bit but was weak, tired and sick. He went to bed but said visitors were welcome.
You know, there was a time during this when I thought, God, what have we done? I knew it was stupid, but as I said, I was exhausted.
The word had gotten out that Nick was sick. I heard from some friends and wonderful neighbors. Actually, I forgot to mention that Winston was well taken care of by my neighbor and friend, next door, who has a dog that Winston likes. Nick and I were so worried about The Boy, too.
By 3:30, yesterday, my two Ohio children left for the airport. They were on the same airplane. They had to go back to their lives. I couldn’t get the words out to say goodby. My eyes did that mother thing, you know, throwing tears. As hard as this time had been, and with our future still uncertain, good came out of this. To see how good my family is, how strong they are, and how much they have our backs, was the good that come out of this. That, in itself, made me stronger.
We missed our youngest daughter, but she was on the phone with us and with her dad in spirit. She told me that Friday was the first night that she didn’t have her dad tell her he loved her.
I am emotionally a physically wiped,but boy, am I counting my blessings. This morning, I took NIck with me to drop Winston off to get groomed, and then I took him with me to the dump. I certainly know how to show Nick a good time.
I allow steamed and scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen this morning. Though pooped, I have nervous energy.
But I am once again on the screened porch, looking at things differently. It is weird. Right now the garden doesn’t matter. The two cracked tiles in the bathroom I found this morning suck, but are not to be dealt with right now.
All that matters is Nick’s health, love and knowing that Nick and I planted the seeds for some really fine people. Not bad, huh?
And how was your weekend?
I don’t drive at night, but I did then. My mind was
It isn’t that we were actual friends. More like pleasant acquaintances. I know of her but hadn’t talked to her until she began following my writing. At that point, we had a few email conversations about some of the subjects that I had written about.
One of those subjects was Ireland. It made her think about her trips to Norway, where she visited relatives.
I love Ireland. She loved Norway.
The last time I saw my friendly acquaintance, was just prior to our moving south. I saw her in a local carryout. I was buying scratch off lottery tickets pats and she had just purchased cigarettes.
We chatted for a few minutes. I told her we were moving. She mentioned that she and her husband had moved into a little schoolhouse type building. She mentioned that her son had bought their big house on the lake.
It was a peasant chat. Friendly acquaintances. A pleasant sort of relationship.
One of my sons knew her husband. I think that they were friendly acquaintances, too. One day, maybe a year or so ago, I received an email from my son, saying the husband of my friendly acquaintance, had died.
I didn’t know him, but I felt badly for his wife.
Remember when Robin Williams died? That hit me. I didn’t know him, but I grieved. The same with Anthony Bourdain. I recall, crying, when Nick told me what had happened. Nick asked why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was just very sad. I was going to miss him.
Maybe it is my age, or how the world is or just the way my mind works, but when I hear about certain deaths, though I might now have known the person, feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. My equilibrium takes a hit, and I grieve.
I have a friend that I have had for probably 35 or 36 years. Long time. Good friend.
The other day I called her. We chatted and caught up on what her kids were doing and how my kids are. We talked politics and laughed and about my old neighbors and that the people who bought our old house, which is next to hers, are taking good care of my cottage garden.
She asked me if I knew a certain person. This person was my friendly acquaintance. I said, yes, I know her.
“She died last week.,” she said.
My gut immediately hurt. She was only 67.
I can make 67 sound young or old. It depends on how I am looking at it. For death, it is young.
My friend told me the circumstances for the woamn’s death, which unsettled me even more. Fire, burns … suspected to be caused by smoking.
My mind flashed back to our chat at the carryout. She and her husband had a lake house and were planning on spending more time there. Her obituary mentioned that she and her husband began dating at 16.
Now, 3 years later, they both are gone. Their 3 adult children have lost their parents and their children have lost their grandparents.
And though I didn’t know either, well, they are in my craw.
Futures. Plans. Pasts. Unexpected Losses.
I think I will sit and watch some birds for a fe minutes.