Stories Are My Life

Stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories we have lived, and the stories we have denied.
 
I am not sure how you see your life, whether it is one big ball of silly putty, or a string of events that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reason.
 
I can’t handle my life as one big ball of silly putty. I am more like a book. I have moments that are words, some are sentences. Some sentences stand alone and others morph into paragraphs. I have also lived in vignettes, almost stages settings that I have envisioned prior to them happening.
 
There are parts of my life that have revealed themselves in chapters. Short chapters, long chapters … that will, eventually, become the book of my life.
 
Writing and thinking in such a manner help give me some structure and order to my life so it doesn’t totally go out of orbit.
 
Yes, there are times when my thoughts and emotions get sling-shot to outer crazy land. But in putting what has happened into context, into a story, pulls me back into a place where I can live.
 
If you think about it, how do you see you life? Is it a story-board? Is it random things that seem as hough you have no control? Do you drag the past with you or carry it in you purse like a tube of lipstick? Or, do you see it in some other way?
 
I was so enthralled with the podcast I listened to, yesterday, that this morning, after cleaning up the remainder of the stuff in the kitchen, from our baked ziti dinners that we cooked for hurricane relief, I needed something to pull me back to center.
 
I scrolled down the list of podcasts on Invisibilia, and found won that sounded interesting. It was about a woman whose husband had died, leaving her bereft, who could not function well. She decided to jump out of an airplane. You will have to listen to the podcast to get the story, which is part of the reason that I am writing about life as story, today.
 
The other part of the episode was about a couple from Montana who raised bees. Someone stole all of their bees at the worst possible time, (not that there is a good time to steal bees).
 
Again, a story of loss.
 
We all lose things, don’t we? keys, purses, glasses, receipts, friendship, friends, spouses, children, parents?
 
We mourn and go over and over the past and the emotions and the stories of the past. Sometimes, we change the stories to make us feel more comfortable.
 
There are times in our lives, dare I say, that we don’t even know how we will move on, or if we want to try.
 
Think about the people who lost everything, including loved ones, in the recent hurricane. Many will have to start their lives over.
 
How?
 
As this podcast told so well, those who are able to move on, do so, in part, because they learn to create new stories for their life. They mourn the past, but instead of sticking in “I, I, I,” mode, they begin using pronouns such as “him, her, we, them.”
 
I know that is how i push myself forward. When it is too much, “I,I,I,” I know that there has to be a shift. My thinking needs to change. My attitude needs a vacuuming and there is a need for letting go.
 
Maybe, that is why I do some things that others think, “Why does she do that?”
 
I can tell you why, as it has become clear to me.
 
Because I want a new story to live, to experience, to share. There is something in me that drives me, and entices me to try this or that, so that it becomes a paragraph or chapter in my life, and that helps me engage with others.
 
There are times when I wonder if I could or would I want to go on if Nick dies before I do. When the woman in the podcast, the one who was grieving for her husband and her lost life, said that she didn’t get joy out of doing the things they used to do, together, I put myself there. I can bring myself to tears thinking about that, especially if I am driving in the car, alone, and hear a song that moves me.
 
Who knows if that will happen?
 
But in my mind, I pray that if that does happen, I will do as this woman does … jump out of a plane, metaphorically, and begin a new, different chapter. And if I look at it like that, I think I might be able to handle it.
 
Susan
 
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia

When Life Changes in An Instant

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.

But now?

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?

Susan

I don’t drive at night, but I did then. My mind was

Life Lessons From The Garden

I can be harsh. I can look at a diseased or dying plant and have it affect me much more deeply than it should.

I can hone in on the problems of the garden and life.

Instead of seeing the whole picture, the beautiful flowers and plants and the birds that arrive with bravado, I look at what needs to be done, size up what needs work.

That is what hit me in the face, yesterday, as I looked at a zinnia whose leaves had gotten some sort of black spot. Yep, I took it personally.

Abut after watching “A Gardener’s World” a lovely show about gardens in England, I walked to my garden and thought, wow, I have done a  lot of work and smiled … right before I dug in, and made a new path and began sweating like Shrek in the weather with a 77% dew point.IMG_1824-1-1

The mind shift and excitement came back to me as I saw possibility, and put away my stink-eye.

Sixty-six years old, and still have to work on my attitude.

In my life, I have met people who couldn’t figure out how to live. Life was always a problem. Nothing added up. Why can’t I have this, do that, look like …

Accepting things as they were or are, and not going down the path of self-doubt, or feeling angst and defeat is a big part of how one lives a peasant life in a day.

I am slow, but I am learning. I am seeing so much of life, and myself, in my garden.

Dirt that is rampant with fungus. It is there. The world will not end.

The plant that had glorious flowers yesterday, is dragging, today. There is no need to fret.

Weeds are coming up, again, where I thought I had gotten rid of them. Relax.

The hostas don’t like where they are. Move them and get on with your life.

You get the point. It is the same as in so many other areas of my life.

The dough I made didn’t rise properly. That need not be the benchmark for your day.

The 5 gallon pail with all of the birdseed fell over and spilled all over the patio. Shit happens. Smile anyway and laugh. The birds will still come, tomorrow.

Monte, the gardener from England, whose show I watch, made me realize I was being a tad anal about all of this, and that the garden (and life) will have its day, or most likely, a moment, when the flower is perfect, the plant is robust, the dough rose beautifully, and my hair looks pretty decent.IMG_2043

These are but moments in time. You take your mental snapshot and know that it is all going to change  because that is how life is.

But to only see the diseased plant or the flower with the gimpy pedals or to think you are a failure because your dough didn’t rise? That is like living in a no-outlet.

And that isn’t how I want to live. I shall, each day, marvel at the flowers and plants and events that make me feel that sense of marvel, wonder, and fulfillment.

This moment is temporary.

And so is life.

Susan