I should have known

Mum has this clay fireplace thing which is in two pieces. Every May I am encouraged to put them outside, keep them cozy in a blue tarp (the elements might harm it), and then put them back inside in the fall, still wrapped. I don’t even have a photo of the thing as we’ve used it maybe once in all the summer’s I’ve been home. I didn’t even know what it was. Mum told me it was a ‘Chimora’ and was Mexican.

Well, it isn’t. It is called a chiminea.

Thank you so much ‘YouTube’ for letting me know I’ve been saying this wrong for YEARS!!! Thank you internet for  helping me. I had no idea what it was mum had in the yard and nor did she.

She was right about the origins, though. It does hail from the warmer regions of the world. There is another odd part.  Mum likes to set it on a couple of patio  bricks in the yard. It should have a stand under it, according to all the photos I’ve seen of the contraptions.

I should have looked it up ages ago. Mum often gets an idea in her head about things and runs with them. I have this tendency, too. Not as often, but I still do it. Sort of stupid. It must be genetic.

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I am sad-

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I am sad because, after the brief interlude of sunshine during lunch (we didn’t go in to the luncheon mum was to attend, she was in a great deal of pain), the rest of the day went pretty much as the morning had. Horrid.

I am sad because I spoke to a friend and found bruises all over her arms, from her husband’s dog. A dog his daughters gave to him and he cannot control and who ate one of the medicines he is supposed to take. A whole bottle. And her expensive bracelet when she was jumped upon. (and this is just today!) I am sad because on my long drive to get mum’s prescription, I realized how expendable bobbers are. I am sad because I am alone in the caring for my mum and it hurts. A lot. I am sad because I wasn’t trusted to be strong enough to realise I didn’t really need someone I depended on. I am sad because I had no freaking idea a debit card with a visa stamp wasn’t both. (That one also made me feel like an idiot.) I am sad because the line at the first store I visited was very long and I’d left my book in the car. I am sad because when I used the bathroom at the store where I dropped off mum’s prescription, there was what I hope was water on the floor in the stall. I am sad because I CRIED out in public, in the sunshine, while sitting on the bench with my dad’s memorial plaque on it. (it isn’t easy for me to cry, tough people can’t.) I am sad because I don’t want to keep doing what I am doing and I’m tired and daddy can’t do a damn thing from his side of the curtain. I am sad because when I left the park where dad’s bench is, I delicately put the pointed toe of my best dress boots into dog crap. (In the park where there are clearly marked baggies for pet refuse.) I was so sad I ate all the servings in the bag of mini chocolate covered hostess donuts. (6 servings of 3 donuts each) I was sad when I drove past the lake where the swans hang out and didn’t see them. I was sad when I drove past the Senior Center where mum used to go, because she doesn’t go there anymore and she is forgotten. I was sad because there is a dinner coming up and we won’t be there. I want to do something fun and slightly fancy. (OK< that is just whining. I’ve had the chance to watch two movies in the theatre and two at a friend’s since last November and fancy is not something most people think to do with me, even if I could go! I’m ordinary and a bit immature and I HAVE had two ‘fancy’ sorts of experiences. Once around my birthday and one last November.) I am sad because when I made dinner, I dropped two pieces of fried halibut on the floor (mum’s dog was very pleased!).

However, besides the sun break around lunch time, there were a few other bits of good things scattered in the day. When I met my friend with the bruised arms, I also got to squeeze hands with one of the postal workers..thru a mail box! (I felt quite like I was being introduced to a roving female ‘Thing’ from the Addams Family). At the first store I went to, two VERY nice ladies waited in line while I dashed to grab two movie size boxes of Jr. Mints. The two young men ahead of me were also incredibly kind, and funny. (I guess those good things came in twos!) In the bathroom of the second store, there was one paper towel container still holding paper towels. While I was at the park, a man was listening to music and when he quietly broke into song, it wasn’t off key. I decided I didn’t need to go to the bank and get a credit card, the man at the rental place said I could use mum’s if I had POA papers. (I don’t think I could get a card by Monday anyway) I was able to clean off my boot thoroughly with one of those floss tooth picks when I got home. I got to text a friend for a bit. My fried halibut was ok, mum didn’t complain about it to me. (HOOORAY!) I read outside for 30 minutes after dinner, it was too cold to stay out past 730. (I had forgotten my coat and something to sit on.) But, I came inside and finished my book.

So, even with the ridiculous things that happen in a day, you just gotta count the positive ones. No matter how small. Otherwise, you are going to roll over in the waves and drown.

Not Happening

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One of the most frustrating things I hear while taking care of mum is ‘You need to take care of yourself.’ The phrase makes me want to BITE something. Hard. I get the idea, but it is absolutely impossible. My sleep patterns are wonky, my glucose can be horrible, and my soul is often scabbed over. I’m not going to say I’m fine, but I will say I do the best I think I can. I really do.

Thankfully, there are books (even if I can only get 4 at a time from the library!!) and texts and an unreliable internet. My whole life has been training for this last year. Being alone most of the time, not talking to real people very often, and waiting on others while in their service. I was created for this job and it is ok. I don’t like it, but I can do it.

I keep hearing I should take mum to Oregon. Most of the people in her world up here don’t really talk to her anymore. She has two who keep in contact, but since she asked for more privacy, she has slowly been ‘forgotten’. Her pastor doesn’t visit, she loves communion and has gotten it rarely, she is left alone much of the time. She had so many ties in her life and slowly they are vanishing. It was her choice, but it makes me wonder if it will make her more interested in moving to a different place. Probably not, she’ll never accept she’s being passed by. She will never accept she is a grumpy, sick person and people find it hard to be around her. And consequently, myself.

Meanwhile, I need to get myself organized to get ready to take mum to a luncheon given by the radiology dept, pick up a new prescription for her, and finish my book.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am for the written word? I am!

Bobbers

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Changes are good. We are told this from the very beginning of life. Change promotes growth and growth is always a positive thing. In the long run! Yet, even when we understand them, they are often hard to accept completely. It doesn’t matter if the change involves learning how to do something, is between people, or is from a traumatic natural disaster.

In the first few hours of this Friday, I’ve been confronted with almost an Alexander Monday (remember the book ‘Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day’?). I am shaking my head and almost laughing to myself! I am so going to wear something cheerful today. That song Dolly sings in ‘Hello Dolly’, is so true. ‘Put on your Sunday best when you feel down and out…’ It won’t be my Sunday best, most of those things are in the states (the Lower 48 or Oregon), but it will be something cheerful or maybe just comfortable. I truly need it today.

I went outside early, after getting mum up at 4, and gazed at the cloudy sky. It was nice and peaceful, but in the silence I could hear moose calling and giant sounding footsteps crashing in the brush. I didn’t stay out long!!! But, because of my wanderings, I fell back to sleep and missed an important communication. I got mum her meds at 8 am and the house phone rang almost immediately. The windshield for mum’s car is in (that was a crazy story!) and I need to rent and manage to figure out how to get a car from point a to b because the repair will take all day. (Thankfully, there is a rental spot right next to the mechanic’s shop.) Then, I discover something I knew was going to happen, did. I know that is sort of vague, but it doesn’t matter. It is a people thing and reminded me of something else that isn’t sad, it is interesting.

As a person, I’m sort of a bobber. (I’ve been thinking quite a bit about bobbers lately!)  They are kind of fun contraptions, especially when something happens to excite them. Yet, for the most part, they sort of just sit there on the skin of the lake or river, waiting. Other times, because it isn’t needed, it resides in the tackle box, rolling around with shiny bits and assorted fishing bling. They aren’t exactly all that necessary, but they are easy to clip on and off of lines and sharable. Bobbers are clever little things of a surprisingly simple make. They are made to take changes in stride, bouncing along no matter if their line is cut or not. Brightly colored, they are easy to spot and are almost always the safest piece of gear in your box!

A bobber is a marker of security. People do sometimes feel better when I’m around. (at least, I hope so!) I know I bring a sense of security to mum and my family, when I am with them. The bobber is affixed to a fairly strong and practically invisible line, but as mentioned, it can easily be removed. Even when cut adrift, as sometimes can happen, a bobber is the most easily rescued to be put back to work elsewhere. They are a type of toy/tool which are incredibly handy to have around. I honestly don’t mind having kinship with a bobber, it is a fascinating world out there and I have experienced and learned a great deal from the different lines I’ve been attached to. (the lines are like wearing different hats) I just need to remember to not swing around and tangle them and to be careful to keep focused on one line at a time.

Right now, my most important line is mum.

Dangnabbit!

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I get mum wants and needs to be independent. But there are some things she just cannot do. I was having trouble sleeping and heard mum get up just a bit before 4am. I opted to stay in my blankets, but realised I should ask if she needed meds. I went upstairs and she was going to try to change her ileostomy fittings by herself. I was angry, but she allowed me to care for her. It was not good. I’m not going to go into details, but she would have had a terrible time with this AND it would have needed changed again in a few hours. I can clean her much better with her body flat than she can standing on unsteady legs,  holding her jammie top in her teeth, doing the actions with shaking hands. After I was done, she wanted a pain pill and I let out her dog. I told her she needed to remember to ask me for help and I was sorry, but there were things she is not able to do anymore. She thinks I’m doing the cotton wool thing. I’m not. Not in this aspect. I wish she’d just realise she needs help and let me do it. It is like pushing jello up a rocky hill.

And now I can’t sleep cuz I’m so mad!

Radiation

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I’m confused. I thought I would ask one of my good friends who has experienced this about it, but alas, he’s not available. The pancreatic cancer forum I joined is on break. I can’t seem to find a straight answer in the magazines and books I have. The internet is the next place. So, I thought I’d ask my followers and hope one of them could help un confuse me a bit. Send me to a link or something!

Mum has had 16 sessions of radiation treatments. At the start we knew they were not going to be curative, but palliative. She was in pain before they started. In the middle, she was given two days off. Due to the pain she was in. Her regular oncologist (who kind of irritates me-he seems to be the ‘pat you on the head and I’ll fix everything next week’ sort of guy) said, just as the treatments were starting, that the pain would lessen day by day and radiation is something that lasts at least 2 to 3 weeks after you are done. The oncologist we saw today after her last treatment said sometimes radiation causes pain and she should feel better and  have more energy in a couple of weeks. So, either the pain should abate during or it should abate after. Needless to say, she’s hurting. I also learned today, because the area radiated was so close to the only intestine she has left, it may feel as if it is bruised. (yikes!!)

That oncologist also said it was ok to set up an appointment to have mum’s teeth pulled in a couple of weeks. He seemed pleased when mum said a name of the doctor who might be doing the surgery. So, I’ll need to keep an eye on her for pain from that, as well! Meanwhile, she fades beyond what is seen in her stats. Those are great. Yet, there are nights like the last one. Not only was she awake, she talked in her sleep a great deal when she finally got to sleep, and she was restless.

Then, to make things even more interesting, when I got up at 430 to wake her, she had already been up. (somehow I missed that—I am such an inconsistent care person!) So, I opted to let the dog out. As I opened the door, I heard/saw a giant shape move and the glint of an eye just a few yards away. I hustled the dog back into the house and watched a very disgruntled teen age moose stumble thru the brush. (it is one of last year’s calves) Teens don’t like awakened no matter what the species!!!!! I leashed the dog to go back out and he didn’t notice a thing.

Yet, the main reason for this post is about the radiation. Is it supposed to make pain go away sooner or later?

Song by Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix (I’d so leave mum to hear these people perform!!!) and has nothing to do with the question, I just wanted to add it!

Cotton Wool

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Mum insists she does not want to be wrapped in cotton wool. I get this, I really do. I want her to be as normal as possible for as long as she can. Yet, today, I’m mad at her. We are at a 4H judging thing. I am not working with her. I cannot do it. It is uncomfortable watching her strive for normalcy and pretend. So, I’m in the front waiting area waiting. Waiting for her to finally realize she is tired. She’s going to stay here til this is over, it is her way. I usually field her calls, I would have turned these nice people down. However, mum answered the phone. When mum talks on a phone, she’s chirpy. In reality, she is less so. She has always enjoyed judging and these are for record books. There is even an award 🥇 named after her in this area of 4H. Thus, mum absolutely had to do this. Thankfully, this is just judging records and not interviewing the kids. Mum’s filter is less kind than usual! She gets really annoyed with sloppy recording by kids who should know better.
I’m mad because she is angry with me. Again. I’ve been driving not like she wants and I’m not interested in the DNA test my aunt is sending. If the test was about health, I’d be more than interested! I’d love to know my chances with colon or breast or pancreatic cancer. I’m mad cuz she has only had a single pain pill in more than 24 hour and none for nausea. The 24 previously, she had more than 7 all combined. Which is what she has done consistently the last weeks. I can see a rough night ahead. 😕
In retrospect, I’m more resigned. Anger is useless. I know this is my choice and was starting to resent it. Then, I realized resentment was as pointless as a dull pencil. I cannot and do not want to control her, I’m not going to get my life back in the foreseeable future, it is the way it is.
But, I’d much prefer being at the house and making dinner so I could go out in the kayak as soon as possible.
It is later: Mum actually caved after an hour and a half. I got take out from Arby’s and she didn’t drink all her shake and she ate part of her sandwich and did not want onion rings. She took 3 pills and is on the phone with a friend. Making little sense, but her friend is understanding.

I didn’t go out in the kayak.

 

Mom, Daughter, or Me?

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Man on bridge by mum is random fisherman, no relation. 

This has been a crazy week. I have absolutely loved having the kid with me. He’s managed to spread one lightweight duffle around the entire basement, he’s gotten out dozens of my dad’s 33 records, he’s worked his buns mostly off, fished, and I think he’s had a good time. Oddly, I am not sure how he has not learned to hug properly. Thursday evening he was reading and I interrupted him so I could hug him. He lay there like a log after one hand patting me and finally asked, ‘Are you done yet?’ (Granted, he was reading and I was sort of keeping him from finishing the chapter!) I kept a hold of him for quite a while. I miss this kid so much and am so glad he came to visit!!! I’ve gotten to make him a few dinners (we have eaten out a couple of times-well, gotten our food and eaten it at home!) and learned I’ve learned patience.

However, it has not all been fun and fishing. After being treated with the chemical I bought, mum’s laundry room has partially flooded 3 times. (I am so angry-I thought for sure we’d had this fixed! It seems ok at the typing of this post.) Mum has 3 more radiation treatments and is NOT feeling very good at all. Wednesday I was so frustrated with her. I had gone shopping for some things and she was alone for about 4 hours. While I was gone she took a phone call. It appears we are going to assist with a 4H thing on Monday afternoon for several hours. I asked her why she thought she could do this and she responded, ‘I’ll be sitting down the whole time and talking.’ –She’ll be interviewing kids about their record books, looking thru the records to make sure everything is in place, and be in a room with a dozen individuals at the same time. She can’t even attend church, how on earth does she think she can do this???? She said she will and she will push her way thru and guess who will get the brunt of her choice? Yup, the daughter. I was talking to her radiation head nurse on Thursday morning, because I was still annoyed, and even she was startled. ‘Your mom can’t do that! She’s going to completely exhaust herself.’

Anyway, I was mad. So, I said if she was going to feel well enough to work with other kids, I was going to take her to the bridge to watch her grandson fish. I bullied her into going and it was good. We drove out there, she got out of the car, walked to the kid, and talked for about 20 min. When we got home and I made dinner, she started to fade fast. She was almost ready to throw up, she didn’t finish her single waffle and 2 sandwich sized slices of ham. She went to bed at 9 pm, which she rarely does, and I was certain sure she was going to need to be taken in to the ER. (note: our ER is now called an ‘ED’ or Emergency Department. Oddly, on a medical form, ED stands for Erectile Dysfunction.)  I didn’t and when we got to her treatment the next morning, she said she was doing well. Sometimes I want to throttle her!

I, myself, went to the doctor on Thursday. It appears I have yet another sinus infection. The nice dr person wrote me a script to get a CT scan of my sinus area. (Like I’m going to be able to get THAT done!) He also gave me antibiotics and told me I need to get my glucose better maintained when I mentioned my feet hurt all the time. Mum’s car is not getting fixed this week (the young man working at the shop we go to has been working alone the last couple of weeks and he’s swamped.) and I have not heard back from the windshield place about getting that repaired. However, the shop and garage now have power again (It seems the line was cut last summer; I actually have photos taken just before the incident! It was mended perfectly, unfortunately, the lines were also compromised a foot or so above the break. And those were the problem) and I have heat in my bedroom. I hadn’t whined about it, but if I am going to be here a full winter, I decided to see if it could be addressed. Turns out the electric wall heaters in my room each have their own thermostat, but they don’t work if the main thermostat in the laundry room isn’t on!

I have decided I much prefer the mom hat over the daughter hat. It would be lovely to hand off the daughter hat for a bit and wear a me hat, but am completely sure that isn’t going to happen.

Que Sera, Sera. (I mentioned this phrase to one of the receptionists who works for one of mum’s doctors and we took off on Doris Day. So very cool, she is an under 30 fan!!!)

Odd things in reality

This is a post from two different blogs. One I read shared an article about underwear and reminded me of when I wandered a while in the world of vintage lingerie.  The other about being one with nature.

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I am a fan of pantaloons. I really think they make a lot of sense. However, I had NO idea women’s drawers used to be split because of men. It makes sense, though. Men not wanting women to wear ‘pants’. The masculine world has always made a mark on women’s fashion. (The bullet bra for Jane Russell was created by Howard Hughes and not very comfortable!) This article sort of made me sad, too. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women were working very hard to become equal. Yet, their underwear was a mark of submission. The UNDERWEAR they wore had open crotches to show they were available and that they were not wearing ‘pants’. So crazy to think today open underpants are sexy and erotic. We’ve really come a long way, baby!!!!  (the last link is the same as the first one, because it is really a VERY good article and worth reading!)

The other blog I ran into shared an article about a Japanese technique which I absolutely am a 100% a believer in. As off the wall as it sounds. It is called Forest Bathing. No, it is not what I did the other night, but close. It is even more bizarre.  Not tree huggers, but people who are learning to renew their souls and lives with trees and the natural world. In 1982, when I was confused by boys and in love every other day, the Japanese made forest bathing a part of their national public health program. Brilliant!

I know this must work. I crave mountains and trees and water. Even in the place I normally live, which has trees of all kinds around me, I find myself aching for green. I made a quiet place in my yard which a pocket of peace in bushes and green with a fountain. I need these things to survive. Mum, while we were in town, was ok. When we came home, she was better. Here, she is surrounded by large windows looking at trees, a lake, birds, and the sky. I can see the benefits in this!

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So, two odd things I’ve run into in my blog reading this week. They probably should not have been stuck together, but so be it!

A Walk on the Dark Side-nsfw

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I woke up hot. I thought I’d awakened because my blood sugars were out of whack, but they were ok. I was just too warm. It was early, but decided to check on mum. She had already gotten up, so that might be the reason I woke in the first place. I had probably heard her on the monitor and knew something was off. Anyway, I was awake! I took the dog outside and discovered the rain had stopped and it was rather pleasant.

I pulled up my top and the night air felt perfect on my skin. I took the pup back in the house after wandering a bit partially dressed and stood at the door thinking. I was going to do it. I slipped downstairs to find my flashlight and went back out. I opened the car door, quickly stripped, put my clothes on the seat, and was naked! Well, mostly. I did have on my rubber boots and my wristwatch! I walked all over the yard, down to the lake, sat on the dock, went down to the end of the drive. It was incredibly freeing. I see why so many people wander around in the buff inside their houses and out! I wouldn’t have done it, except it was almost totally black outside. I’m much braver in the dark! Although, to be honest, I did shine my light around to make sure no eyes were out in the trees. I am not sure I could explain a bare assed encounter with moose or bruin!