Sunday, December 31, 2006

Joyeux Noel, in retrospect

I have not been quiet this week because I had a depressing Christmas. I actually had a good Christmas Day. Meg called around 8:30 AM-they had been up for at least an hour with the baby by then-and came to get me at 9:30. Myla had just fallen asleep as I got there, so Meg put her down and we (mostly they) opened presents, including the baby's, until she woke up an hour or so later. We had saved a gift for her to watch unwrapped, but as soon as I began tearing the paper off, she burst into a loud wail, with big fat tears puddling up in her eyes and overflowing down her cheeks.
I am only slightly ashamed to admit that her loving mother and adoring grandmother bust into laughter at her reaction! Then, of course, we had to try it again to see if her response was the same. It was and I am much more ashamed to admit that we roared again. We did eventually get her quieted down, and put away anything else that was wrapped for a later time.
I was home by noon, and napping by one! Peggy (my best friend from childhood) picked me up at 5:30, and drove me to her house for Christmas Dinner. Her son, my god/dess son, Ian was home from Pitt, so the three of us exchanged gifts, and sat down to a wonderfully eclectic meal of stuffed salmon, green beans, pearl onions, homemade mashed potatoes, and cranberry-orange compote. Peg is a very good cook, and we sat around a bit drinking wine for a while.
Then Ian drove me home, came in, drank brandy and stayed to listen to me talk about the state of the world and my world in particular-an rare opportunity for me to vent a bit. And surprise Ian, too, because he has no real concept of my (or his mother's) life. As a trade off, he came up later in the week and unloaded his considerable misery on me, along with a lot of theories of comparative literature which are way above my head!
Ian left around 10PM Christmas night and I, who had joined him in a small amount of brandy, fell into my recliner/bed and slept the sleep on the righteous. All in all a good day.
Blessings, Margo
PSDon't drink and drive, but do enjoy your New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 25, 2006

May Your Christms Be Blessed

To All my Friends in J-Land,
Thank you all for your concern, prayers, help, laughter and comments!
On this Holy Day, I count myself Blessed.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.
With gratitude. Love, and Blessings,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Wish I Had a River

 I wish I had a river
That I could skate away on...
             Joni Mitchell
I have all my good enough Christmas plans in place. I am saving wrapping presents for tomorrow, so it will seem Christmas Eve-y. My new couch arrived, and it is absolutely wonderful. Meg has bought the cinnamon buns we always have Christmas morning. I am working very hard to be upbeat when I talk to anyone, and I definitely don't want to be a downer here.
But through my dark glasses, it feels as if even those I know who also suffer Christmas depression, who rush around too much and superhuman their ways through the Holiday madness into exhaustion, are doing better than I am. Mostly, I am lonely, a complaint I have whined over all year long. I have even had well meaning people offer advice ranging from relax and enjoy your solitude to well, get your butt out there and meet new people, join a group, volunteer, DO something. None of these people have been living with chronic pain, facing, then recovering, from major surgery. I have no doubt that I will do something as soon as I am able, but still I'm sad and alone, during all these long, boring days leading up to Christmas.
I have only to think of anyone who is incarcerated, or mourning the death of a loved one, or sick, or homeless, or hungry, or caught in a war over which they have no control, and I feel ashamed. I know as well as most, and better than some, that this is the season for giving, not throwing a pity party. A time to celebrate the renewing of light, both at Solstice and Hanukkah, and soon a celebration of family and heritage at Kwanzaa. A time to meditate on the birth of a child to a virgin, an event which many think is part of a cycle reaching back to ancient times. A time to be thankful for the family and friends I do have.
And I am thankful, truly, and do meditate on the meaning of the season, and, in my own small way celebrate, by having a tree and giving gifts. I have simply been stuck at home for too many days, with no way to get out and get moving. When I can drive, I will take my shiny bluewalker with the seat (for when I am dizzy or tired) and go people watch while I walk from one end to the other of the Mohegan Sun Casino- I live between the Sun and Foxwoods, which is the biggest casino in the western hemisphere. What a weird thing to have in the middle of the woods only 5 miles away!
I need to walk, and casinos are better than malls, because I spend less. (My gambling limit is $20 three times a year, and I stick to it.) Meanwhile, between bouts of misery and sorrow, I am working to be busy here inside, despite the gray days New England has been blessed with lately. I read journals, play online games and solitaires and roam the Internet. I sit on my new couch for a different view of the living room (in which I have been living, day and night, since October 20th). I am even sending out a few Christmas cards, though it is lucky that Christmas really ends on Twelthnight, or Three Kings' Day. This gives me plenty of time!
I really do wish those who love the holidays, or value the religious aspects of their holidays, or are lucky enough to be busy with family and friends and are loving it, the very best joy of the season. And for those who are struggling, I hope you can make it through the season with some sense of hope for the future. I know from personal experience that human nature is strong and resilient, and enables us to endure and even grow and change.
Blessings, Margo

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is coming,                                                       
The goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny.
a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
God bless you.
          -Old English Carol
It's coming on Christmas
they're cutting down trees
putting up reindeer
and singing songs of joy and peace 
I wish i had a river 
I could skate away on...
           -Joni Mitchell
Christmas is coming, all too quickly for nearly everybody I know. I have been meditating a bit on how I feel this Christmas, and these two songs seem to sum it up. The former is one we sang at Shipley, the all girls school I attended from four to fourteen. I can still see us, all in our short, forest green, pleated gym-type uniforms, over long sleeved white cotton blouses, all wearing white socks, brown tie shoes, our forest green bloomers over clean while undies. There we stood, lined up by height (me at the left end of the back row) singing Ye Olde Englishe Christmas Caroles to our assembled parents, the fathers having been coerced into coming home early (by commuter train) at a time when they would have much rather worked late, then hit the club car before confronting family Christmas duties.
Never mind, I did learn all the words of lots of old British Carols, and they come floating back to me at odd moments of the holiday season. I learned a lot more Advent and Christmas Carols when I sang in my church choir for a decade or so, long ago. I especially love Advent carols. Surprised that this pagan was so active in a church choir? Shouldn't be-I have always been interested in religion, ever since I left my Episcopalian universe for a Quaker boarding school- a study in opposites that sent me on to (eventually) major in Comparative Religion, a truly useful major for a woman planning to be divorced and needing a job badly.
Anyway, as an adult I put in a decade of hard labor in a local church. I don't think anyone else in that church went to more retreats and study groups and Bible courses during that time period. In the end I realized that I kept banging my head on misogyny and homophobia, with which the same denomination is still struggling to this day. Good thing I didn't hang out, waiting for change. In reality, by the time I left the church, the Goddess, the feminine side of the Divine, had claimed me, and I could no more refuse Her than Paul on the road to Damascus could deny his own, more dramatic calling.
As I hum the first song, I think about the historical Jesus and his birth story. More than two millennium later, we know something of the outcome of this birth to a young single mother, already in labor, riding a donkey into a strange town teeming with others vying for room and board, all because of some governmental regulation about taxes. Mary (a Goddess figure if there ever was one) didn't know about Christmas or Christianity, she just gave birth in the straw, accepted first, shepherds, then (no doubt) curious townies, followed by three Kings bringing offerings of unthinkable wealth, along with a warning to get out of town quick. And off they set for Egypt on that donkey with a new born. No wonder she pondered all this in her heart. Any mother would.
Christmas has come a long way. Mostly downhill. I am not out in the Christmas Crush (being home bound, still, six weeks after surgery), but most of the people I talk to are either strung out with stress, or tired of the whole idea. And, since I am watching more television than usual, even I have not escaped the rampant consumerism. The ads are all about buy, buy, buy, buy, spend, spend, spend. That child born in the stable or cave or wherever, grew up to be a man who would be appalled by it all. I am absolutely sure of this.
If the historical Jesus was anything like the stories his life generated, he would be far more likely to be putting his last penny into an old man's hat (on his way to heal some lepers, no doubt, then on to teach those without any pennies about the power of Peace on Earth) than out buying one of his disciples' kids a Tickle Me Elmo. Which I will no doubt be buying for my granddaughter Myla next year. I am quite able to admit I don't always practice what I preach (and I bet Jesus himself didn't either. He was human, after all.)
The second song is also one I hum every Christmas. Depression always creeps up on me as Christmas nears. It has been a year since Rene moved out, and the second song is about lost love, so you might think I'm in an anniversary funk. Except that I have hummed it every Christmas for years, long before she came into my life. I suspect it is a generational thing. My grandmother had perfect-Christmas-itis. She passed it down to my mother, who passed it down to me.
In my childhood home there was always too much alcohol, a Christmas Tree fight, and some sort of mild catastrophe that sent my mother into a tailspin. Which I recreated for Meg, who miraculously seems to have escaped such a need for perfection. I have rid myself of the need for a perfect tree and family dinner, but somehow I cannot pull myself out of the depression which settles painfully around my shoulders like the dimming of the light that comes along with the Solstice, the shortest day of the year. (Solstice is a pagan celebration, and the reason that Christmas was moved to this time of year. Many Biblical scholars believe Jesus was born in the spring or early summer.)
Over the years I have gained several techniques to cope with this kind of depression. I have come back to the most helpful of these: choose five things that will "define" Christmas for me. If these five things happen, the I will count it as a "happy-enough" Christmas, and let go of other hopes, expectations, and fantasies. This year's five are:1) get a tree up 2) give gifts to those I love 3) buy myself a couple of small presents to open ChristmasDay 4) spend time with Peggy, and her son Ian, who is my god(dess)son and 5) spend time with Meg, Myla and Adam. There is a sixth which I always do anyway; make a donation to charity.
Then I go about making sure these five things happen. Luckily, I have also learned to choose thing that are quite possible. The (small artificial) tree is up, and only needs a few decorations. I've ordered nearly all gifts on line-for those I love and myself. Peggy has invited me for dinner-some oddball, non traditional meal, I'm sure. And Meg has invited me for Christmas breakfast and gift opening- a meal I have organized for the last two decades. She is even more excited than I am!
There. Christmas is taken care of. It will not stop the dimness of depression completely- it never does-but it will somehow bring joy into a life which is still on hold as I wait for healing and change. I hope the man who was the historical Jesus, the latest in a long history of dying and rising gods born to a virgin mother, would understand.
Blessings, Joy and Peace,

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Not So Good Day

Today has been a bad day-I have been hurting more than the last week or so. And I am once again feeling sad and lonely. I guess the two probably go together. I am down to taking pain pills twice a day (along with the fentynal patch I've been on for three years now), and spent the first half of the day waiting until the pain hit a level five and a half to take my first pain pill of the day.
I spent all day catching up on e-mail, going to various favorite sites and trying to convince myself that I am fine, just fine. And of course, in one way, I am fine. I saw my surgeon last week, and he was delighted, not to mention amazed that this long time diabetic healed so well (the incision, that is) and without any infection. He was beaming when he left, and was even nice to my worker's comp worker, who turned up to make sure I actually did have the surgery and am not ripping off the system.
Actually, she's okay, and has enabled me to take a cab to and from physical therapy, so I can go back to the people with whom I rehabbed the first time. Luckily I love them, because it will be a long, painful project. Ugh. On the other hand, I get the excitement of leaving the house twice a week, and even the 15 minute ride is out of the house! And it is 15 minutes, both ways! Such wild excitement.
I know that such good worker's comp treatment will end all too soon-probably by the end of the week, for I "ought" to be driving by now-never mind that I don't feel safe doing so. Not only will my free rides end, but my aide, too. Alas, I am still afraid of taking a shower alone, because if I am unsteady getting in or out, my first response is to reach out to brace myself with my right arm. A real no-no.
Part of my problem today is probably because Christmas is fast approaching, a difficult time for me.
Never mind, I've done my therapeutic crying for today, and tomorrow is almost here, and no doubt be better, or at least different.
Blessings, Margo

Friday, December 1, 2006

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. All day, I have been thinking of the women at the Women's Prison who are HIV positive, and their friends, those I never knew there, who died in the 80's and early 90's, usually alone, in the single cells of an infirmary full of nurse and doctors who, at best, didn't care and, at worst, were full of fear, disgust, even hatred towards all who had the disease.
It's better now, of course, if dying in prison can ever be "better." There is a great inmate-manned Hospice program, and no one dies alone anymore. And now far fewer die there of AIDS related illnesses, because of better meds and state mandated HIV medical protocols. And most nurses and doctors at least understand the illness, which takes some of the fear factor out. Some are still prejudiced and disgusted, though. Some are wonderful.
But, as one inmate told me, "It's a drag to have HIV in general, and worse in prison" because there is still stigma, lack of understanding, and real ignorance in the prison population, and a few correctional officers who can be cruel.  [Most C.O.'s are good people, doing a good job, respectful of all inmates who stay out of trouble. HIV is just another illness to them-like diabetes or arthritis.]
Some of the inmates in my groups of positive women got HIV while in prison in the 80's. Back in the day, so my long term or recidivist positive women in would say, there was less vigilance and therefore more drugs in prison. Most of the time there was one underground needle for all those who used in prison. In the morning it would be in one side of the prison, in the afternoon the other side. Nobody knew about AIDS-or considered it a "gay disease"-so they took turns shooting up, passing the virus back and forth and all around. Their stories would make me cry.
Then somebody would remember some funny story about so-and-so who had AIDS, and suddenly the whole group of women-including me-would be roaring with laughter as one would leap up, take on another persona and act out the whole story.
I laughed more in those groups than I did anywhere else in my life. Then I would go back to my office and cry.
Of course, many woman got HIV from their husbands or partners, who used needles, or were on the down low. Some got the virus from working the streets, the only job they knew, to feed their children, or their habits. And in reality, it doesn't matter how anyone-men or women-acquired the virus. It is living with the virus that is important, getting into medical treatment and taking the meds correctly that is important.
I don't want this to turn into me standing on a soapbox, beating my breasts, and whining about the obvious. I came to care about those funny, manipulative, sacred, courageous, angry, frustrated, even dangerous women in my HIV positive groups.
I was also enraged by them, and those who were not (yet) positive. Some were in deep denial that they were at risk, or putting others at risk. A few were just uneducated about HIV, and many didn't know who to ask about the rumors they heard about HIV. Some care and use condoms when off drugs, but not when using. Some don't care at all.
As an HIV counselor, I tested people-inside the prison and out-and have been the one who had to tell people their tests came back positive. In a split second their lives became "before" and "after," a terrible experience for all. I liked the group and educational aspects of my former job better.
The sad thing is that we need a World AIDS Day at all. This is an epidemic that was preventable by the 90's, but our country's leadership, many of our churches, a lot of conservatives and middle-of-the -roaders refused to allocate funds for research (it was a gay disease, who cares?) or allow meaningful education to sully their, and more especially, their children's, ears.
Gee, come to think about it that part hasn't changed much-studies show that abstain only curriculums do not stop epidemics. Now many don't care because large numbers of African American and Hispanic women are turning positive now.
HIV/AIDS is now a World-Wide pandemic, rampant in Russia, China, India, and growing fast in South America. It is the only preventable pandemic, and especially (but not exclusively) in third world countries there is not enough money for life saving medication. And it is a disease of women and children. it makes me sad and angry and frustrated.
The point of this, I guess, is educate yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors and their children and grandchildren, even complete strangers if you have a chance. Nobody is completely immune. Educate your grandparents, your elderly widowed parent, for the elderly are a fast growing positive population. Be careful, negotiate sex with a new partner before you are in bed, use condoms, reach out and help (or hold) those who are positive, donate money to reputable programs that help with medication and education.
Today I am also remembering the gay men we lost to this epidemic. A whole generation of men who never got to live beyond their 20's or 30's. One guy I went to school with. A friend's brother. Several men I loved dearly. Those who pulled me into the fight against AIDS, to whom I am still grateful.
I hope that someday, maybe in my lifetime, but certainly in Meg's or Myla's, we will no longer need a World AIDS Day.
Blessings to all, especially those who are HIV positive, Margo

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Giving Thanks

Not surprisingly, I have been meditating on giving thanks these last few days. Mostly I have always given thanks for the good things in my life-Meg, Myla, family and friends, the beauty of where I live, my partner and job, the food on the table, the abundance in my life.
This year, I have come far enough to be thankful-at least to some degree-for the difficulties life has handed me in the last three and a half years. I have lost both job and partner, ice cream comfort eating and 200 pounds, friends and financial comfort, my sense of balance and independence, and more. But because of all this, I have had time, days and days of time.
I've spent a lot of those days in serious pain, physical and emotional. I have cried me a river, fallen into the dark pit of depression and been stuck there, and crawled out, almost literally. I have had surgery four times, rehabbed three times and am in the beginning stages of my fourth. My years as a diabetic caught up with me-I'm dizzy a lot, cannot feel my feet, and now fall a lot. And more.
But, as I meditate this weekend of thanks, I realize I am grateful, and blessed, to have adjusted enough to be happy sometimes. Despite it all, I like the life I have now, and the one I see just over the horizon. I have more surgery ahead of me, this time to remove the approximately 15 or more pounds of hanging skin left by my weight loss. But I now believe I will eventually get back to my HIV poz women in prison, and find other ways to volunteer in the community, hopefully with women.
And I am beginning to make new friends, slowly, and mostly online, but it is a start. Of course, I've had Peggy as a friend forever-53 years to be exact! What a gift to be thankful for. I really like living alone right now, too, even though at the moment I am relegated to the first floor only. I love my antiques and tatty old furniture and mismatched chairs. And I can keep it as clean-or cluttered-as I want to. [I am sure Rene feels the same!]
I find this all quite amazing. I really hadn't noticed that some happiness had crept into my life and lingered. I knew that sometimes l felt happy, but then some huge chunk of reality [like needing a walker, or no help when I got home from the hospital] would land on my head and knock me flat for a while, but these days when the crisis headache is over, life looks good again. Quite amazing, all things considered.
I am grateful that I can recognize that even when life throws me curve after curve, I can call on Warrior Woman to come to my aid, and can be strong and grounded and keep on getting up. Completely alone and on my own, if necessary. 
A good recognition for a Thanksgiving Weekend, and I am truly grateful.
Blessings, Margo
PS Rene has begun posting again occasionally in her journal Growing Old Younger,[the link is in my list of other journals] and often posts stuff I enjoy thinking over. M.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An Interesting Week?

I would like to make an interesting entry about almost anything, but it's been a long, slow week. And practically nothing has happened. Again, this is not a complaint. Life is what it is. Sharon, my aide comes in for two hours three days a week. she helps me shower, does a bit of light housework, visit for a while, then is gone.
A nurse drops by once or twice a week to take my BP, listen to my lungs and heart, and change my bandage, for I have developed a "chair sore" on my coccyx. I would sit less, but my downstairs is basically four rooms, and that is my world at the moment. I'd go out for a walk, but it's difficult to use my walker left handed. And getting it down the porch steps, let alone back up, is problamatic.
Of course, I did have a couple of exciting moments last night.  I got up, stood still briefly, assessed myself as not dizzy, took two steps into the hall, and quickly realized I was not only dizzy, but would never make it to a chair. [ I have chairs placed strategically throughout the house.] Knowing that my surgeon has forbidden me to fall, lest I undo all his brilliant work, I had a true moment of panic. Then, in a second of brilliance, I threw myself against the wall, back first.
I slid down the wall rather too fast and landed hard on my no longer ample rear end, irritating my "chair sore" no end (pun intended). I sat there a while, wondering how on earth I was going to get up. Then I gathered myself together, scooted across the floor to the phone, and called 911 for lifting help, for I could not for the life of me figure out how to get up without using my right shoulder.
Neither could the two firefighters who soon arrived. They usually lift people by the shoulders, and were rather surprised at my vehemence when I declined that option. They brainstormed ineffectually until I turned over onto my knees. One grabbed my left shoulder, the other grabbed me around the waist and both hauled up. A lovely, graceful moment, one of so many in my recent life. I did thank them profusely, though I had come way too close to screaming in pain.
Then I had to report the fall to Meg, who somehow managed to elicit a promise from me to tell her whenever I have to call 911. Luckily, it was very late and she has to get up at 3:15 AM, so I could leave a reassuring message on her machine. Of course she did call me back at 4:45 AM, just before she left for work, to make sure I really was okay. Glad that is over, at least for now. Eventually she'll use all this as ammo for putting me in some old folks home by the time I'm 60! [NOT] :)
That's what has been happening in my life; remind me not to complain when life gets busy again. I get giddy thinking about the freedom of driving again! Soon I'll be able to run my own errands, do my on shopping, escape from these four small rooms! Only another week or two, to live through. Then I can complain about being tired all the time again. :)
Blessings, Margo

Sunday, November 12, 2006

House Bound

Well, I am still here and healing [way too slowly] in Southeastern Connecticut. I am being well taken care of by an aide who comes to help two hours three days a week, and a nurse who comes once a week. My staples came out Monday, and Wednesday and Friday I had real showers, thanks to Irene and Sharon, my aides. Alleluia!
My PA says the outside is healing nicely, and I've started occupational therapy too, to begin breaking up scar tissue...holy shit from a holy cow! I had forgotten-or blocked-this kind of pain from 3 years ago. There are not enough pain pills in the whole universe to mitigate the pain of breaking up shoulder scar tissue!
But mostly I'm bored. I have been "home bound" for three weeks now, except for two outings to the doctors, and one to vote. I can't drive, and probably won't for another few weeks-at least. As long as I'm stuck here, I can continue to receive services here. And even after I can drive, it will be for short distances only.
Now I sound as if I am whining. I am not. I am grateful to be on the other side of this surgery, knowing that eventually I will have a life to build, though it is not yet clear in what direction.
Meanwhile, after three full weeks of sitting (and sleeping) in my recliner, I have decided that I hate my living room. Well, not all of it. I love the paintings on the walls, one of which is Hope, one of Judi HeartSong's Light Series. She is blue and silver and her eyes follow me when I move around. Her name says it all; the wise, knowing eyes have given me hope enough to move on, time after time.
I also love my antiques, an old, handmade sled on legs, which I use as a way too small coffee table, and my Pennsylvania Dutch all wooden pie safe bureau, both of which my mother gave me, along with a huge old copper apple butter bucket. I have filled it with homemade dolls and bears and other stuffed animals.  And I love my fireplace, which now has a propane fire in it, complete with remote control(!).
And, although it is way too big, I'm okay with the TV console, which is tall and wooden. It holds a lot of stuff, though, and keeps the corner of the room anchored.
That leaves the sofa. It is a perfectly fine sofa, well made, fits the space, a Forrest green, now with a rose slipcover on it for a change of pace, and I've had it fewer than 10 years. I have come to focus all my hatred on this poor, innocent piece of furniture. It sits under the bay window, and every time I look out the window, I am stabbed with my irrational hatred.
The sofa came from neighbors when they upgraded to leather.  I know they spent a lot of time and money on finding it. I know it will probably last another ten years. I know it is reasonably stylish, though plain. I know I hate it. unreasonably.
So yesterday i asked Peggy to smuggle me out of the house (remember, I'm supposed to be house bound) to the store where i bough my recliner. i had seen a sofa there that i loved, but had worked hard to put out of my mind. it is too blue. it is too rough. it is way too big for my overarmed living room. it has red flowered pillows. it has an ottoman that covers one square mile. It was way, way too expensive.
I love it. I bought it all, including the ottoman. I must be crazy.
I am going to have to completely rearrange the living room, get rid of some pieces I love (or al least move them upstairs) rehang pictures all over the room, and all at a time when I cannot lift my right arm up to my shoulder without screaming. Although the sofa won't arrive for a month or so, I suspect poor Peg and Robin, who have been my support system throughout, will end up doing all the dirty work!
Still, I can't wait. I have only had one new sofa in my life, which I bought as a newlywed. I loved it, but it began to fall apart after about 15 years. I let it go sadly when we were given a secondhand couch by a neighbor. (There seems to be a pattern there.) Though not my taste at all, it lasted until I received the sturdy, innocuous one I have now.
Don't you think I deserve a new sofa every 36 years or so? I do. and thank goddess I have nobody to consult or ask permission! I'll let you all know how it all works out.
Blessings, Margo

Monday, October 30, 2006

this too shall pass

well, i never made it to a nursing home. i got caught in workers' comp hell. it's a long story, too long to type with my left hand, but suffice it to say that i was home alone for most of the last week, fighting with my case worker, who had hired a healthcare company that kept no-showing. Wednesday, i fired them- a heady moment-and called my worker to demand a new company, and my lawyer to back me up, and the new company arrived early Friday morning.
and that's the short version!
i did have some help, mostly from peggy, who has stopped by most days, from robin, who calls daily, and twice from the local visiting nurses, despite my case worker's angry statement they would not get paid.[i've already spoken to my lawyer-they will get paid!]
so how have i been? you may well ask. well, i made it through, through my pain, my loneliness, my rage, my fear of falling-I did go down once, but managed to land softly and get up-my anger over my situation,  my inability to take the tops off my meds or crush them, my continuing doubts that surgery was the wrong choice, and way too many hours of television, because anesthesia messes up my ability to retain what i read.
i have also been feeling sad and alone in the world. but i have once again been caught in the cycle of asking myself why i have so few friends. something i've done? or not done? with my head, i recognize it has been because i have been out of work-and out of the world-for over three years now. but emotionally it feels as if it is something i've done wrong. this too shall pass, it always does
and why has my daughter not been around at all, to drop by with[or even without] myla?  i know she is working 60 to 70 hours a week, has the baby, and adam just moved in last week. also, all three of them have been miserably sick, especially myla who can't breath and nurse at the same time, and keeps screaming with frustration. just a few small things, you know, :) still, i miss her.
today i had my first check up post surgery. i am doing well, all things considered, but have to keep the staples for another week. it may well be three or four weeks before i can drive. on the other hand, i can start mild occupational therapy here at home. it is a small step towards having a life again.
blessings, margo

Monday, October 23, 2006

doing okay, all things considered

well, i made it through shoulder surgery, hospitazation and home to my wonderful house, roxy the chihuahua's extatic joy, and a small bit of indepedance. and now, after a couple of days at home, i'm headed back to a rehab hosital.

and i am not wildly happy about it, either. but i see no other option. i am unstable on my feet, and in pain and on medication. i can only face so much, and struggling to live left handedly with all the above problems.

so when the visiting nurse finally showed up this afternoon there was a very,very small flash of relief when she said she thought i was too much of a risk to be alone right now. there was also rage and grief and something close to murderous frustration. i spent weeks preparing for surgery, and my time in the hospital, and i'd asked for a consultation from o.t. before i left. i was completely honest with him, and he was either stupid, or not listening to me.

and the visitingt nurses should have gotten someone out here on sat, not mon late afternoon, espicially since i called then each day, requesting help.[what part of "i need help" did they not hear? i also called other visiting                 nurses associations and the hospital, and nobody offered so much as a suggrestion. very,very frustrating!

so i'll be gone for another week or so, but i'll be woking hard to get home asap. and that's the news frm here in sotheastern connecticut.

blessings, margo


Monday, October 16, 2006

My Parents' Visit

My parents arrived last Wednesday, and left this morning. It was, as always, a difficult visit, but also a good one. My Mom is 81, my Dad is 83. They have been married 58 years, some good, many bad. Interestingly enough my mother denies there were many bad years, even though, during my late childhood and young adulthood, I remember her telling me how stuck she felt, how she would leave him, but had no way to support herself. I also remember acting as go-between, going from room to room, telling each what the other said. ( I am the eldest child, and took care of a lot of things.) I remember more than my siblings, because I was my mother's eldest, her confident.
Three years ago, the day before I fell at work, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, after years of refusing a colonoscopy because "it was too embarrassing." My brother called the next evening to demand I get to the Poconos ASAP. Alas, I was in no shape to travel, and Mom was in no emotional shape to come to the phone.
We didn't connect for the over month, while I struggled in the hospital, then at home, and she had had surgery, too, and eventually chemo. When we did finally talk on the phone, all I could do was cry and ask her to keep fighting to live.
It was a terrible time for both of us. But, while the seeds of separation were being sowed between Rene and me, my parents marriage began to get better. My father recognized he couldn't imagine life without her, no matter how nitpicky she is. And my mother decided she didn't want to die yet (though she came terribly close), and was surprised that my father came to the hospital everyday to sit with her. I think Mom suddenly recognized that, in his own inarticulate way, he did love her, and she did love him despite his many foibles.
I now find them funny and frustrating, interesting and irritating, stupid and wise, sniping at each other and taking care of each other, the synthesis of 58 years together, good and bad. I cried when they left, hoping like hell that they will make it to next spring, when I can see them again. They leave the Poconos soon, to go back to Denver, where they live eight months a year. I will miss them.
We didn't do much on this visit. Mom was not feeling well, and Dad was happy to hang out doing crossword puzzles and reading the newspaper. I had wanted to take her to see the ocean again, but instead we spent four hours in the ER. The night before they came, she fell and banged her head hard, but, intent on getting to CT, she stemmed the bleeding, and refused to go to the hospital. She refused Wednesday night when I told her she should go, all day Thursday, and most of Friday. She is a stubborn woman.
Finally she muttered that her headache was getting worse, and her vision was blurred. The next thing she knew, I had taken over, and we were on our way to the ER. After a long wait and a CAT scan, a doctor said she was lucky, had no bleeding in the brain.  Because she is profoundly deaf, I had to explain what a brain bleed could mean, and why she should have gone earlier. And yet, oddly enough, our time together at the hospital was quite enjoyable a time to talk, catch up, enjoy each other.
My father and I went to the grocery store together, so I could buy food for my recovery. He kept me laughing by talking about their grocery shopping together. Mom makes the list, splits it, and each take a cart and a separate section of the store. Dad's idea is to finish as fast as possible, throwing items in his cart as he hustles (as much as an 83 year old man can hustle) down the aisles she has assigned to him.
My mother, on the other hand, is slow, looking for just the right chicken, detergent, frozen dinner, reading labels as she creeps down her aisles. Dad finishes first, of course, and stand at the front of the store, metaphorically tapping his feet, holding his impatience in check. Finally Mom finishes, finds him, sends him back for the correct items that he missed, and finally they check out together.
I just laughed, and told him to follow along, not worry about getting the correct items, and he happily followed me around the store, then just as happily paid for my groceries-an added gift for me!
We also got together for breakfast with Kevin and Betsy, Rene's brother and sister-in-law and it was really wonderful to see them again, They were family for 14 years, and I miss hanging out with them. Kevin is kind enough to offer to help me with projects around the house, and occasionally I take him up on his offer for small jobs.
Then, that afternoon, we went to Rene's for coffee. It was the first time she has invited me to see her new house, and it was great to see how happy she was to see my parents-who were, afterall, her family for 14 years, too. I was interested to see what she had done with her house, and it was very Rene, indeed, with Disney stuff everywhere and three desk areas for all the work she does, on line, and cutting articles out of three newspapers, to put in her history journals. She did admit that she had done a lot of cleaning up to get the house ready for our tour.
It was really nice to see her and her environment, but painful that she never asked me how I'm doing, or commented on my weight loss. or wished me good luck with the surgery on Thursday. I felt left out, and sad. I still miss her presence in my life, though I know our decision to split was the right one. I don't know if she will ever get over her anger, or if I can let go of some of the cutting things she said at the end. Breaking up is hard to do, to coin a phrase.
My parents enjoyed seeing her a lot, and I am thankful to her that she invited us up to see her.
Now, it is time to turn my mind towards surgery. I need to catch up on housework, bring clothes downstairs, because I won't be climbing the stairs, for fear of falling. I have been ordered not to fall for at least six months post-op, a scary proposition for someone who falls hard at least a couple of times a month.
I also have to prepare mentally, put myself into a positive, relaxed and trusting place, because I believe we heal better when we can connect the spiritual component of life to our bodies.
I also realize that I will not be able to make entries in my journal or make comments in those I read for a long time after surgery, so I seem to be writing a more often, with longer entries than in the past. I have been living a bit more vicariously through the journals that I read, recently, and I think that has to do with Meg going back to work 60 to 70 hours a week, and my need to prepare for surgery.
Someday, I will have a busier, more meaningful life, but now is the time to put energy into recovery.
Blessings, Margo

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I have been musing lately about the changes in my life since I fell three years ago. At the time, I had no clue what had happened to me. Oh, I knew I'd broken my arm, needed arm surgery, and was in pain. I had no idea that surgery would cause severe nerve damage and pain, that my career was over, Rene would move out, I would lose 200 pounds and end up on Social Security Disability. Talk about A Changing Life.

I am still coming to term these changes, though I believe I am learning to accept them. Pain became a prison for a while, and I had to work very hard to find a pain clinic with doctor I could trust. I am still on pain meds, but am feeling much freer these days, and I hope my shoulder surgery will help some. I am learning to live with the peripheral neuropathy in my right arm and hand, caused by the surgery done in '03. This a permanent condition.
 I know now that I will return to prison-as a volunteer with an HIV+ group. It is not what I want, or what I was trained to do, but it is something that I can do with the women who need lots of nonjudgmental support.
I still miss Rene, but know the relief of having the house back to a cleaner, sparer, quieter mode. She has a lot of belongings (which I labeled stuff, but it is all important to her), and took over two bedrooms, the downstairs hall, and spilled into the dining and living rooms. It's a small house, and I realized even then that I was suffocating in it. I can breath easier now.
I am still processing the weight loss. I know I look different, but my mind has not caught up with the changes. I still look for armless chairs when I go somewhere, even though I fit in chairs with arms with no problems now. I cannot stand the acres of sagging skin which wrap my body in what I see as major ugliness. I'm odd in that I always liked my big body, and don't like my body now. I need serried plastic surgery. This means fighting with my insurance company (which has already turned me down once), and facing at least three or four more operations, which will need to be done at Yale.
For the time being I am being very forgiving of myself by not looking beyond the shoulder surgery I will have this Thursday, at a local hospital. More inner body work will rise when I have energy to do it. I am well aware of the issue in my life, though,and this alone is real progress.
Being considered disabled by Social Security is just weird, especially since nobody seems to know when and how much money I will get. I can accept the fact that I do fall, hard and relatively often, because of autonomic and peripheral neuropathy. And walking with a cane or rolling walker has become just part of life now, whereas at first I was embarrassed. Using them beats cracking my head on the floor and having to call 911.
And the more life changes, the more it becomes the same-with more changes! I still struggle with depression and a distrust of all things that push me to move before I have digested everything on some inner level. I am always going to be a strong minded introvert!
This means I move slowly with change, but also that I keep moving forward no matter what, sometimes at a snail's pace, occasionally with a beautiful leap, as graceful as any ballerina. I have no idea where this stick-to-itiveness comes from-I didn't have it in my youth-but I am grateful for it now. (thank you for your thoughts on Gratitude, Christa, of This Crazy Life, see my favorites list).
As I muse on all this, I realize that, while I am sorry that I fell, I do not regret the changes that fall has caused. A new and different life is slowly emerging. Not one I would have chosen for myself, perhaps, but one I am learning to live with, even occasionally like. This pleases me.
Now, I must add that life will take a major dive in five days, when I have my shoulder surgery. I will be miserable, lonely, sorry for myself, struggling to use only my left hand, dependent on strangers as well as friends for a while, but now I have no doubt that I will handle whatever the universe throws at me. Perhaps slowly, but certainly surely. And I am glad to know this about myself.
Blessings, Margo

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Lettter to Hospital

This is the letter I finally sent to the local hospital about some of my experiences 3 years ago. I think it has helped me feel clearer about my upcoming stay after shoulder surgery, though I am not looking forward to it. I also gave a copy to my Dr and his PA, so they would know why I am so anxious, even though I know this stay will be shorter and easier.
Do not feel you have to read it, either, I am posting it because people have asked about it. I have removed the hospital's name and the doctors' whole names, because they don't really matter.
Dear (patient advocate)
Three years ago, on Thursday Aug. 7th, 2003, I fell at work and, because I was hugely obese, went down like a redwood tree. I ended up with a large butterfly fracture of my right upper arm, and terrible bruising from my breast to my thigh on the right side. I was sent to ----- by ambulance. I am writing this letter to review some of the difficulties I encountered during my hospitalization at -----.
I was greeted by Dr. S. and his (then) PA, Mr.T. My arm was X-rayed, put in an ace bandaged type cast, then I was given pain meds and sent home. I was told that their practice's new arm and hand surgeon, Dr K. would do surgery on the arm early the next week.
During my time in the ER, nobody x-rayed any other part of me-like my neck or back-nor was I examined in any other way-an issue which soon became a big problem for me. I went home, took my pain pills and began to decompensate right away. By Sunday, I was unable to get out of my chair, and my partner called 911.
I went back to -----, and was admitted to the over crowded, understaffed orthopedic floor. I was in the second to the last room on the right side in the bed nearest the hall. Since no roommate would open her curtain, and I could not see into the hall, my view for the next 10 days was the TV and a blank bulletin board. After this I was sort of in and out of it for several days.
On Monday morning, my then PCP, Dr. D. dropped by, and was alarmed when I didn't know who he was and that my bloodwork was all out of whack. He ordered an MRI for me, because he was afraid I was having a brain bleed, but he was told that, because I weighed 368 lbs, hospital insurance would not cover the cost of fixing the MRI machine, should I break it. Therefore an MRI was out.
If I had been examined by a doctor or nurse, either in the ER or when I first arrived on the floor, it would have been clear that I was having a "body bleed" for by then I was black from breast to thigh, and getting darker daily. I knew this, and so did the aids who helped me bathe, but I did not know that officials-like my nurses and doctors- did not know, so I never mentioned it. (I was very naive about hospital errors back then. I've learned a lot since then)
All of this I found out later, of course. At the time I was confused and scared. I would wake up two or three time a night, terrified, swimming into consciousness with no idea where I was. After a long while I would gather all my courage and call out, "Where am I?" The first couple of times my roommate would tell me I was in the hospital, but soon tired of my waking her. She would hit her bell and tell the answering nurse, "She's doing it again," and bored, angry sounding voice would erupt over my head, telling me that she had already told me three-or four-times I was in the hospital. I still wake up at night with that feeling of terror at not knowing where I am.
I fared little better during the days. Each time I was to go for a test or X-ray, a team of people would appear at my bedside, some commenting on, or complaining about, how difficult it was to move me, leaving me stammering apologies about my weight. Each move was exquisitely painful, for my arm was still in the original ace bandage wrapping, still unset, and hugely swollen.
One aide actually pushed on my injured arm to get me across the chasm between bed and gurney.  When I screamed in pain, she snapped, "Listen, Missy, we have to get you up and moved. Screaming isn't going to stop us."  My one small, pitifully proud moment of the whole hospital ordeal happened when I snapped back, "No, you listen, Missy, my arm is unset and unattached and if you push on it I will scream." She had the grace to look slightly abashed, but was no less rough in subsequent moves, though she stayed on my left side from then on.
Nor did I fare much better on the way to and back from testing. I was in an elevator with my eyes closed, trying to contain my pain, when one of the orderlies said to the other, "This woman is too fat to live." The other answered, "Well, she probably won't be living long anyway." I lay there feeling flushed, terrified, and totally humiliated. I kept my eyes closed until they dropped me off at some door for some test.
Then there was the fiasco of blood draws. My right arm was out of commission and I am a hard draw. Knowing this, I was polite to the people who came sometimes twice a day to draw blood. After only a few days, however, I had black and blue stick marks from my left hand up to my shoulder-mostly from misses. The last straw was when I woke up to find someone trying to get blood from my armpit. I called a halt to blood draws, loudly and clearly. A nurse came in and said they would get their best guy to get the required blood that day.
This phlebotomist turned up with another man who was apparently in training. It should have been clear by then that I was not an ideal candidate for someone to practice on. However, the so called "best guy" insisted the second man try three times, before he was willing try. He did get my blood, second try, and left me quietly sobbing with anger, frustration and pain.
Why did the so-called best guy make me be stuck three times before he tried, knowing by the marks and bruises on my arm I was not an easy draw? I'm still wondering. I finally got a port put in, something that should have been done several days earlier.
One evening, after my blood work had improved, but before surgery, an elderly woman was brought in from a nursing home. From my side of the curtain, I heard her grandson telling her over and over that she would be okay now, she was in the hospital, and he would be back to sit with her first thing in the morning. The orderlies put her in the bed beside mine. A nurse told her she had to go down the hall quickly, but would be right back to settler her in. The woman moaned for a long time, while I spoke soothingly to her through the curtain, then she fell silent.
Three hours later, ( I know because I was watching prime time TV), I called for my next pain meds. I told my nurse that nobody had been in to settle my roommate. She looked horrified and pulled the curtain aside. It was too late, the woman was dead. Now, she probably would have died anyway, but her pain could certainly have been eased had a nurse returned, as promised. Within fiften minutes, her body was gone, and the bed was being cleaned. I found this experience to be quite traumatizing, though no nurse that night or the next morning would discuss the incident with me. It was as if we all were to pretend it never happened.
And then there were the smaller problems, not so much medical as practical. I could not take the tops off hot food, or unwrap a sandwich with my left hand alone. The food service person informed me that opening food was not her job. So at each meal I had to ring my bell, inform the nurse I needed help, and then wait, sometimes for 30 to 40 minutes, before someone would show up to help me.
The same was true for the bathroom. I could walk, go by myself, and get back into bed, but I could not get up from the bed without help. Sometimes I waited an hour for help with that, even though I began to become a bother, ringing at 20 minute intervals.
The physical therapist and occupational therapist would arrive one right after the other in the late afternoon, after I was exhausted from getting up to use the bathroom and sit in my chair on and off all day. They kept urging me to exercise the rest of my body to keep myself strong, but never were able to arrive any earlier, or one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
When my bloodwork was finally close to normal, and Dr. K. did the surgery, I was less able to help myself and more dependent on the nursing staff, which was terribly understaffed, due to vacations, and "a bug going round." I turned out to be allergic to morphine, so I had to ring for pain meds and wait so long sometimes that I was in real agony, struggling to breath slowly, with unwanted tears sliding down my face when the nurse finally arrived.
Please know that for the most part, I was well aware of the stress on the nurses, and that there were sicker patients on the floor than I. I am by nature polite, and was careful to thank the nurses  and aides for their help, friendly towards most staff members, and quite patient until towards the end of my stay, when I became totally desperate to leave the hospital. Some staff members were actually wonderful to me, smiling and helpful no matter how tired, even to the point of anticipating my needs. I truly appreciated them, and know they are working in the right place. Other staff members-especially nurses-were over-worked, over-tired, curt and spoke down to me, as if being fat also made me stupid.
Finally, on a Friday morning, Dr. K. said I could be released to  a rehab place, and the discharge nurse came in to tell me they were holding a bed for me somewhere (I can't remember where now) and they would send an ambulance for me "soon." I understood that to mean that same day. Nobody came for me Friday, but I figured they would show up Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, I was desperate to leave, then was told by a nurse that no place sent an ambulance or took in new admissions on weekends.
I had a meltdown, and threatened to leave anyway, but, of course, the hospital held the upper hand, and that was made clear by the nursing staff, who went so far as to call Dr. K. on his weekend off to give me a lecture, even after I had already capitulated and said I would stay.
By Monday, my only thought was to go home. When the discharge nurse came bustling in shortly thereafter, asking why I wasn't going to a rehab place, I told her what had happened. She was shocked, but then had the grace to come back to tell me she had gottenbusy, and hadn't finished the paperwork, and she was sorry.
By then it was too late. I had been it that awful room, in pain and humiliated about my weight for almost two weeks, with nothing to look at but that empty bulletin board, and I wanted out. And so my doctor released me, to go home way too early, forcing me to set up many of the services I needed myself.
All in all, those two weeks were among of the worst experiences of my life. And, as you can tell, I am still angry about my treatment at -----. I still wake up in the night, terrified, not knowing where I am. And I have gone from trusting ----- to take good care of me to massive anxiety at the thought of having to be admitted there again. 
Since then, I have chosen to have two other surgeries at Yale, where I was treated as a competent individual, respectfully and with dignity. Despite anxiety which was leaking out my ears, I found both experiences to much better than my time at -----.
I am writing this letter for several reasons. The first is that at the time I received my evaluation, I was still unable to write at all, so I let it go. As time has passed I have become more angry, not less.I have had to spend a lot of time in hospitals, and now I have anxiety attacks before each admittance.
Although I have lost  nearly 200 lbs. since 2003, I think I am most angry about the way I was treated for being obese. I heard the snickering and comments about my size; it was, and is, totally unacceptable. I wonder how many other obese people have been subjected to the same kind of humiliating treatment. Perhaps some sort of sensitivity training is in order?
The second reason is that I am hoping that by writing this letter, I will exorcise some of the demons that linger three years later. I have gone into my subsequent hospitalizations with completely negative expectations, to my own detriment. While I have become more assertive and self advocating because of my experience at -----, I have also had to deal with the anxiety causing memories of that experience.
The third reason is that I am scheduled for surgery at L&M on October 19th. Dr. M. will be removing the rod and screws that Dr. K. put in, and cleaning up the rotator cuff.  I am truly scared about spending time on that floor again. I hope that my experience will be radically different this time, but I am more anxious than usual before hospitalization.
I believe strongly that the mind/body connection is a critical part of healing, and that my anxiety is detrimental to this. I am hoping that this letter will be a method of changing my anxiety, and of having my experience this time be much better than the last time.
M. P. S ( I signed my full legal name, not using Margo, because I  had switched into my attorney's daughter mode somewhere in the middle of writing it)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Computer is Down

I have not disappeared, my computer is giving me problems. I shall return and try to catch up ASAP. I am using Meg's computer briefly.

Surgery is roaring down the track at me. I went to meet with an anesthesiologist today, who explained about the special nerve block they will be putting in. Friday I see my surgeon's PA, who will explain the surgery more. Then next week I go to pre-admittance testing. My parents arrive on the 11th, leave the 16th, and the surgery is two days later.

When I ge back online, I will publish the finished letter to t hospital, which I mailed off Tuesday.

Blessings, Margo

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Every Now and Then...

...I Fall Apart.
Last Sunday, I had a small meltdown. I don't cry or scream or reach out when I have this kind of meltdown, I just go to a very dark place in my psyche, and give in to all my fears and self loathing. I  roll around in my misery, feeling totally alone, helpless and hopeless and very much the victim of life gone awry.
Of course I am the recipient of a life gone awry, but  there is no victimhood there, just stuff that happened that changed my life. I know I am still working to keep abreast of all the changes, but even if I hadn't fallen and ended up  in chronic pain and disabled, I would be dealing with some other set of changes-such is life.
I could not see that last Sunday, I only knew I was going into another surgery, scared and alone, afraid of the pain, of the rehab, of living alone post surgery and all the problems that entails, and  angry at how unfair life was. I spent most of the day watching TV and wishing I could cry and/or whine to a real person.
Monday morning I got up and went to physical therapy where I did a bit of both to Gail, my physical therapist. By afternoon, I began to figure out why I hit the pits so hard and unexpectedly. I have been working on a letter to the hospital where I spent nearly two dreadful weeks, three years ago, after my fall at work.( I will publish it tomorrow.)
That hospitalization was one of the worst experiences of my life, and come October 19th, I will be back at the same hospital, on the same orthopedic floor, and I am really scared about it. The letter, which I am going to send, is one major step I am taking to erase the fear and move beyond that bad experience. Only after I do, will I be able to accept that this new surgery can possibly be helpful.
During the rest of the week I finished the letter, bought a recliner in which to recover from surgery,and began to think about what else I could do to make my hospital stay less difficult. This will include finding out the name and number of the patient advocate, and speaking to the dietitian before I go in, because of the weird diet I must live on (protein, protein, protein, then fruit and veggies, then water, water, water).
On top of all this, my parents are coming for a visit, pre-surgery. They arrive on Oct 11th and leave the 16th. Surgery is the 18th. My parents have not been in CT in about 5 years, because my mom has been sick on and off. She wants to see the ocean one last time, and I want to hang out with her more than I did this summer. I suspect this will be their last visit to CT.
Although they spend 4 or 5 months in PA, then fly back to CO, where they live the rest of the year, I am not thrilled that they are driving themselves. Dad is 83 and Mom is 81, and both are stubborn as the devil, so I am no longer protesting the trip. They will spend three nights at a motel, and two more at my house. They have not stayed here in over 15 years! I'll let you all know how this all works out!
Blessings, Margo

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Well, I Guess I'll Survive, Afterall

A few days have gone by, and I have come realize it is not so much  the surgery I  need to worry about as the pain and recovery. I'll write about the pain issues another time. Whether I go to a Rehab place, or come home quickly, I will have to spend a fair amount of time alone, using only my left hand. My right arm will be in a sling, and hurting.
I have to plan ahead for such things as being unable to open my pill bottles, or grind  up my meds or my ice (which I do so they will dissolve quickly because I have such a small stomach now) or open cans or bottles or scramble eggs, or put on a bra, or button my jeans, or change my jewelry ( it may not be expensive, but I love wearing it!) or change the toilet paper roll, or use the cane and rolling walker I need for balance ( when I use my walker left handed, I roll in circles!)
Now this time I am not complaining, or whining and moaning. I am just planning ahead as much as possible, knowing that more issues I haven't thought about will pop up, willynilly. I will ask neighbors to help with many of these issues, although it will be hard to ask. I am way too willing to go things alone. I am already getting suggestion from people, some workable, some not so helpful. I well remember how much hard work Rene put in, and, of course, my mother has one arm(but she lost her left arm!) so I do know what I'm in for. Even my recliner is "right handed" as the handle is on the right and stiff.
Rene's brother Kevin and Jodi (with an i) of Looking Beyond the Cracked Window, have volunteered to drive many miles, so I can see my therapist. And I will request all the help possible from worker comp-like someone to come in daily and help for a while, and rides to and from physical therapy.
I have (at least for the moment) moved from anxiety into planning. I know that anxiety will  creep up to grab me again, but now I am seeing that I can muster energy to plan ahead, so I will not feel as helpless as I did three years ago when the rod was put in.
Perhaps Warrior Woman will, once again, come through for me!
Blessings to you all, Margo

Monday, September 18, 2006

OMG-Surgery, Whine, Whine, Piss, Piss

Human beings-and I here I mean me-are funny creatures. I spent the whole summer waiting for my shoulder surgery to be scheduled, complaining that I need it done, the time couldn't pass quickly enough, all I wanted was a date.
Well, I have a date, October 19th, and now it feels as if that date is a train barreling down a track straight at me, and there will never be enough time to prepare. Food, toilet paper, paper towels, arrangements to make, the need to open cans and jars and cook with my left hand.
And the pain. I remember how much pain there was after the doc I grew to hate put the rod in. And how he belittled the pain. Later, after the Yale Pain Clinic had diagnosed me with chronic pain, I asked the surgeon if he had ever had a broken bone, or had any period of pain in his life, and he admitted he hadn't. That was my last visit with him and soon he left the practice.
This time, a doctor I know and trust will remove the screws and the rod (if possible) which have been impinging on my rotator cuff, and then clean out the rotator cuff, for good measure. Oh, joy, I cannot wait to see if the surgery riles up my neuropathy, which runs down my forearm and into my hand. Neuropathy pain sucks.
Yes, my anxiety is rising, and the whole thing is bringing up hospital flashbacks, and acute loneliness, for I will come home to an empty house.( Except for Roxy, of course).  Meg will be working 60 to 70 hours a week at our local nuclear power plant, mandated during the planned shut down (for refueling and double checking every piece of equipment).  This will go on through November, and she will have enough on her plate with the new baby and her 12 hour work days.
My friend Peggy is working full time, and I will need to have outside help come in, to help with bathing, dishes, etc. And a nurse to come in to check for infection. And the final blow is that I won't be able to drive for six weeks, so I'll have to miss my weekly therapist's appointments, at the time I need to see her he most.
Well, this has turned into a finely miserable entry. It feels as if all I do is spew anxiety and then whine about it! I know that patients who go in with a positive outlook do better in surgery and healing, so I had better get my rear in gear and start to fake positivity a little better, so I can make it through!
Hope you all are hanging in. I certainly will.
Blessings, Margo

Friday, September 15, 2006

Moving into Fall

It is amazing to discover that summer is over. I spent a lot of it waiting for an appointment with my ortopedic surgeon, which finally happened at the end of August. While I was waiting I went to a family reunion, of sorts, in the Poconos, where my parents. have a cabin. I was able to spend time with my nephew Luke, his mother, my sister Catherine, her gentleman friend Bob, my brother Luke, his wife Mary, Meg, Myla (who is now three months old!) and Adam, and then, later, my nephews Eric and Brian (Luke and Mary's sons) , and Eric's girlfriend Amanda.
I didn't get to spend enough time with my parents, however, as they have a seperate, small, winterized cabin, where they stay to escape from the chaos in the lower cabin. I have mixed feelings about these get togethers. Some of us suffer from depression, some from bi-polar, others from near(or full blown) alcholism, and some are completely oblivious to all of this! It makes for an interesting mix, and a certain amount of tiptoeing around each other.
Of course , everyone else can escape into the woods, or down the stream, or out on the lake. I am pretty much stuck in the cabin area, because I walk with a  cane or rolling walker. Dirt roads, woodland paths, and lots of rain made it difficult  get around. But I read a lot (murder mysteries) and napped and visited with whoever happened to be around. And I am glad I went for the visit, despite our collective craziness.
Now I must move on to the next hurdle. My shoulder surgery is scheduled for October 19th. I've been waiting for this surgery for the last two years, but now I am dreading it. I went through this 3 years ago, and know quite well what I am in for-an unfortunate feeling of deja vu.
Tonight I am purposely not looking too far ahead, but as time passes, I need to reach into myself to activate Warrior Woman yet again. Maybe I'll look more at it more next week!
Blessings, Margo

Sunday, August 6, 2006

And Unto Me a Grandchild was Given

Yes, I am still alive and doing okay and living in SE CT. And yes, I am a grandmother! Meg had her baby by C-section on June 15th, and I feel so blessed that I got to be in the room, holding her hand while the baby was delivered. A girl! Meg had kept her secret up til the end. I watched the baby emerge from the incision, and, after they weighed and suctioned and wrapped her up, I was the first one to hold her, to bring her over to Meg to see. Meg named her Myla.

I am overjoyed. I spent the first 10 days "sleeping" on Meg's couch, helping when I could, and going home during the day to sleep. I am grateful that she live a half a mile up the road, so I can go over most days to hild Myla, and that Meg doesn't mind my dropping in.(I always call first, though.)

Meg"s boyfriend, Adam, seems to be taking on the role of daddy, although she was already pregnant by artificial insemination when she met him. He lives and works in RI, and comes down on weekends. I give then privacy on weekends, but cannot wait for Mondays, so I can go over and hold Myla  and sing nursery rymes to her. I have also tauight her to stick out her tongue, as my mother taught Meg ast the same age.

Babies are amazing, and the fact that Meg(at 34) is old enough to have one is still amazing to me. I love that I was there at the moment she crossed the line from maiden to mother, archtypally speaking, and felt myself becoming even more of the Crone, even though my menses stopped long ago. This is not bad, for the Crone carries the archetype of wisdom, and I hope to grow into the role more as I age as gracefully as possible.

As for everything else, well, Rene is still shutting me out, and I now understand that I was making big changes, and as she struggles with change, I may have beeen something of a threat to her. I still love and miss her, but have pretty much accepted that she's gottta do what she's gotta do, and am moving on with my life.

The summer has been filled with physical therapy, and chiropractry, and my regular round of doctor's appointments,with some massage therapy and accupuncture thrown in, because I think alternative therapies do help.
I saw my surgeon, Dr. Bell,for my one year after gastric bypass appointment. I have lost over 180 pounds since my heaviest in April '05, and am a shadow of my former self!
My annual bloodwirk came out alright, and I have an appointmrent with a plastic surgeon, though I probably have to have the shoulder surgery before I can excize the incerdable rolls of skin and left over fat that weigh me down now.

I am sorry, yet again, it has taken me so long to post. I seem to go through periods of inertia when it comes to the computer. After a few days away, I am overwhelmed by all the e-mails, and cannot find the energy to catch up. Plus the dining room, where my computer is, is not airconditioned, and I am definitely not a summer person. Some days I feel trapped in the living room, where I run an old air conditioner practically full time.

Thank you for you concern and e-mails to me, asking how I am. They make me realize how much my friends out here in computerland mean to me, and I an grateful to all of you.

Blessings, Granny  Margo :)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Granny Margo?

I know it's been a long time since I have made an entry, but this time it's not because I am deep in a dark cave. I seem at have emerged through a tree root, and l found myself in deep woods, but at least I can see the light of day.

In the other world-the one we call real life- is busier because my 33 year old daughter is about to present me (and her father) with a grandchild! I do not usually write much about Meg because she doesn't want to have her life broadcast into cyberspace,  These days my readership is small enough that I feel you are my friends, and want to share the my joy.

She has been talking about having a child for several years now, and has been waiting for a  stable environment, a partner, male or female, with whom to have a child.  As the years have passed, her frustration level rose to the point of researching artificial insemination. And that is what she did, deciding to raise the child alone-with help from friends and family. We were thrilled-my mother can't wait to meet her great grandchild! I'm a bit impatient, too, considering it's not due til mid June.

And because life is filled with the unexpected, she met her boyfriend Adam on some dating service. She got several calls, and told each one that she was pregnant, and quite capable of taking care of the child and herself. She went out on several dates, and Adam was the last. He lives and works in Rhode Island and they see each other on weekends,

He seems completely unconcerned about how this child's life began, and will roar down from R. I. to be there for her during the birth. She also has a Doula, who will be with her during all the hospital labor and delivery. She is very well organized, with day(and night) care-she works alternating 12 hour shifts - and a detailed birth plan and an interesting nursery all ready.  (The nursery is decorated with fire and fairies! This is no surprise to anyone who knows her.)

She has researched early childhood-her college major was human development and family relations, though now she works as a plant operator assistant at a nuclear power plant against which I used to protest. She has selected a minimum of "baby things" to fit in her small house, and she is now going to an acupuncturist to turn the baby who is breech at the moment.

She is still working, forced kicking and screaming into light duty, at five months along. She has not missed a whole days work since she became pregnant She is rightly proud  of her organization and planning, and is handling getting bigger and bigger very well. She has a great attitude about labor and delivery, and now even has Adam to be by her side.

Poor Meg, she hasn't a clue. This baby will disrupt all her neatly laid plans, will change her life in ways she cannot imagine, will fill her tiny house with equipment and toys, joy and exhaustion. will take over her heart and mind as it has taken over her body, She cannot imagine the ride she embarking on, and all of this is okay.

She will struggle and grow along with the child and, luckily, is a strong, independently minded woman who rises to challenges. I cannot imagine where she comes from! Her father and I are slightly bemused about this child we raised.

All the way through this, I have referred to the baby as " the child" or "it" because she decided early not to share the child's gender with anyone. This has driven some friends almost crazy, but she points out this is the only nine months in its whole life that nobody is projecting gender roles on to him or her, and she wants to keep it that way! She thinks about these things.

The fly in the ointment is the baby in breech. If he/she does not turn, she will have to have a C-section, and will be miserable about that until she holds the baby in her arms. Most of all, though, she wants a healthy child.

So that is the news in my neck of the woods, and I will let you all know what's going on when we know more!

Blessings, soon-to-be Granny Margo

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Catching Up and Getting Out Some

To read this in a better form, go to MagogoSMusing at Blogger.

Spring has finally really arrived in my corner of Connecticut. The daffodils are blooming in waves,my neighbors magnolia is at its peak of glory, and we are all emerging, blinking in the sunlight. I am emerging a bit, too, thanks to Wellbutrin and my new snazzy cobalt blue rolling walker.

I have been struggling all winter with dizziness when I stand up-my blood pressure falls as much as 20 points sometimes. When this happens my knees go wobbly and I go down-sometimes hard. I have learned to stand up slowly and wait before I move, but there are other times when I am standing  and turn around, take a step, and go down-yelling "timber!" as I head for the floor.

Needless to say, this has been concerning since I live alone now and have a very hard time getting up, because I am still not very strong. My neurologist attributes all this to neuropathy from 30+ years of diabetes. With much less weight on my feet-I've lost over 160 lbs since my heaviest- my feet are in less firm contact with the floor than in the past.
I also stagger all over the road when I walk.

Hence the rolling walker. Walking with a cane aggravated my shoulders, but with my walker I can now walk a mile without staggering or falling down! Doesn't sound like much, but for me it's amazing.

I am getting out more socially, too. I am forcing myself to accept any invitation that come my way-a St. Patrick's Day party, an art auction for our local HIV/AIDS group, a Mary Kay make up party(!), a drumming circle. I am struggling to make the best of what comes my way, trying to meet new people(very difficult for a real introvert like me).

Have I emerged from the cave yet? Not yet, but occasionally I can see a glimmer of light far away, shining in the darkness, as I struggle down the path using my rolling walker and with the candle perched in my walker's basket. It also has a seat so I can occasionally rest.

Blessings, Margo

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cane and Candle

Hecate stands by the crossroads, where  the three paths meet, with her dogs beside her. She holds her torch high. I have stood with her, frozen, for too long. Choose a road, really only three choices, and I know for sure I am not going back down the trail I came in on. That leaves two paths, which wind away into the darkness of Her huge cave.

I have been blessed. She has stood with me through mourning, self-blame, self-doubt, self hatred, loneliness, hopelessness, a cold dark winter of Not Knowing. She is not known as a patient Goddess, but she has been patient with me. She does not give me platitudes or advice, but I know it's time to leave her, to move on. I've known for a while.

Two roads-Robert Frost  wanted to take both roads offered to him, I am gathering up courage to choose one, and neither seem well traveled. Two roads leading into darkness, to who- knows- where, but I must pick one.

And so I do, randomly starting out, supported by my new blue cane, walking off into the dark alone. I have been lonely a lot this long winter, and leaving Hecate is a wrench. I turn and honor her with a bow, and a formal "Thank You for Your Blessings". She nods and almost smiles, then turns back to Her dogs.

Perhaps She holds her torch a little higher, to give me light a little farther. I am grateful. After a while it is just me on a path,
stumbling some, feeling scared and courageous in the darkness.

In my other life, the one that people refer to as real, it is Robin, my massage therapist, who gives me a candle. As her strong hands work my deflated flesh, she tells me to fill myself with the Light of the Universe, the Light freely available to all, let it pour in through my first charka, the down my body until it is shining out my pores.

I breath in, slowly, trying to let the Light flow through me, and am struck by the difference between my lives, inner and outer, outer and inner, which is more real? I picture myself in Hecate's cave, following an unknown path in the dark, so I take some of Robin's light and know I now have a candle. One which will not go out, because it is fueled by the Light of the Universe.

So now I am walking a bit faster these days, helped by my new blue cane, and a candle which glows with the light and love of those who want me out of the cave. I am not ready to emerge, but I'm moving faster down the road with my own  candle, a small torch to light the path.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Still Alive, Mushing Onward

My computer died, not me I am alive and recovering well from kyphoplasty. I had the surgery on a Thursday, came home on Friday, fell in the bathroom on Saturday, sprained my ankle and knee, and have been laying low ever since.

My computer got sick last week, and  I could only get on briefly before it shut me down, Meg's boyfriend came over Sunday and did a temporary fix, and  I hope he'll come back eventually and really fix it.

I am still having mini sort-of-fainting-spells when I stand up too fast, because my BP falls 20 points when I stand up. I am now walking with a cane and a phone in my pocket, per order of my daughter. She'd rather not spend her Sat nights in the ER.

I've been depressed as hell, with crying jags-my own wonderful after affect of anesthesia. Luckily, since I'm living alone, I have only foisted this reaction on a few people. I hope to be better as time passes. My other personal reaction is that I cannot take in what I read. This one would panic me, but I've had enough surgery to know reading will return eventually.

I miss each and everyone of you, and will start reading  your journals as soon as I can.

Blessings, Margo

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Once Again, Warrior Woman

Yes, I am still alive and struggling in Southeastern, CT. I am scheduled for back surgery on the 23rd-yes this coming Thursday- to take care of the back pain before I have this shoulder surgery I've needed for 18 months. Another Eminent DR from Yale is going to do a kyphoplasty. I came right home and googled it. They stick a needle between the vertebrae, blow up a balloon to make space, then fill the hole with cement. Medical cement, not construction cement, I'm told.

I have not been online much for a long time because it hurts to sit in this chair, and my AOL security 9 is terminally screwed up, and I haven't got the energy to fix it. I am now on an AOL 8 I found by accident  stored who knows where, and I'm not sure I'll find it again. How do I feel about the preperation, the MRI the DR's visits and blood draws and drive to Yale to meet the anestesiologist-all crammed into five days? It hasn't been a great week, full of driving-which hurts my back-and pain pills which reduce me to a blithering idiot-I hate the feeling-and I am now walking with a cane because I can't walk straight without it(maybe that's cuz I'm gay!) 

I have all the normal feelings-fear, anger, sadness,  hopelessness, flashbacks to one terrible hospitalization, but I am not giving in to any of them. Warrior Woman has put her war paint on and taken up residence, and will see me throughout will be safe to feel the feelings after the surgery.

. And it sucks being quite alone through all of this. My friends have rallied round with promises to take me down and pick me up, and Peggy, my friend of 52 years (We're 56 now!) has been dropping by and doing my laundry and being generally helpful, but I am still alone in the house a lot and I miss Rene-the good times, of course, not the bad ones. Not that I want her living here again. We talk business occasionally on the phone, and she's pleasant but not friendly.

I got a wonderful surprise when Amy, our resident hippie, ran across my number, and felt moved to call me. It was wonderful. We could talk to each other about issues and problems and joys that we knew about from our journals-it was truly talking to a friend. And it came out of the blue for me, and was a real blessing. Think of me, or pray, or send energy or thoughts or Light, on Thursday morning when I have surgery, Warrior Woman welcomes all kind of help from any Source that is meaningful to you. Thank you all.

Blessings, Margo