Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Snakes, credit cards and anxieties

Today has been a Monday occurring on a Tuesday with Friday the 13th thrown in. A series of irritations started off the day, the most major of which was having one of our credit cards used for purchases we didn't make.  It's good that the credit card company caught this, and with several phone calls, the issue was resolved by being issued a new credit card. Modern day problems. Small stuff but irritating nonetheless.

And then the copperhead showed up while the landscapers were working. We had a couple of these venomous snakes in one of the paddocks last week. I generally capture them and put them in a bucket to take to the wooded area across the road from the house.  What to do with two of them made more aggressive due to mating?  Well, those two were dispatched, while the one today was captured and left to slither away into the woods across the road. The landscapers were warned about the snaked earlier in the day and laughed. Now, they are bit more cautious--this isn't suburbia but the country with an assortment of critters, some of which are dangerous.

But here's what's really on my mind. I have been concerned lately about my wife's anxiety that comes and goes. Most days are good, but then there are times when she is more anxious. She clenches her jaw and has begun to grind her teeth.  Sometimes words don't come as easily to her in a sentence.  I am hoping these are related to depression/anxiety and not any kind of progressive aphasia. Because of her mother's dementia, I have concerns when she can't remember a word or seems forgetful and distracted when talking to me.  Because this only happens occasionally, I haven't worried. This morning, I think it happened because she was anxious about the credit card situation, the landscapers being here, and the snake hubbub.  I am trying to figure out a way to gently ask her about it and perhaps ask her to discuss it with her physician who she will see on Thursday. It is a delicate subject.

I know that when it comes to the love of my life, I want her to be safe and free of worry.  I naturally want to protect her.  Knowing that I may not be able to is indeed difficult.  So I will wait for the right moment to broach the subject and see what she says.  There's not much more that I can do.  I am leaving a lot of this up to a power greater than me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

All is okay

Thank you for your positive thoughts! The results for my wife's biopsy indicated all samples were normal. We breathed a huge sigh of relief over this.

She has a history of breast cancer so it was especially scary to have a biopsy done. Now we can dismiss concerns. Both of us were fully aware that no matter what we would deal with the results. To not have a huge fear and to take yesterday a few hours at a time was huge. 

So we are on the boat at the marina this weekend. It is Race Week through Sunday which means a lot of crazy stuff happening. Racers come from all over, and I have found that it's best to be on the boat to watch over it. 

I have a few photos to share. Hope you are having a good weekend. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

What a week

Well, we had a glorious time on the boat over the weekend. My sweetheart had a great birthday dinner on Thursday evening followed by a play at one of the city theaters. On Friday, we cast off lines and headed up the coast to one of the more beautiful barrier islands. It is noted for its "boneyard" of trees that have fallen due to storms and the shifting sands of a barrier island.

We shared the island with about 35 Scouts from a nearby troop.  They were camped in a tent city on the windward side of the island, while we were anchored away from the inlet and a bit in the lee.

We had walks on the beach and cooked Saturday night's dinner over a campfire. It was so relaxing to be there and enjoy the view and the rocking of the boat.  I have said this before--I could spend weeks on end doing cruising, dropping the hook whenever I am ready, and exploring new places.

Things got a bit more complex after getting home.  My wife had eye surgery yesterday.  It was scheduled, and she is doing well.  My first sponsor was admitted to the hospital again with breathing difficulties. He has a serious diagnosis so sending good thoughts his way would be much appreciated.

The complications came about because he has his beloved dog and cat living in his apartment. It has been a terribly hard decision for him, but he has decided to give up his animals because he can no longer take care of them due to his illness. Many phone calls and text messages were made to find homes for them. I am amazed at the wonderfully supportive network of people who love animals. It warmed my heart to know that people were willing to drive for 5 hours to get the dog, a greyhound that he adopted through a rescue group.  I needed some restoration of good will in fellow humans.

I am feeling a lot of concern about my sponsor.  But I know that he is being taken care of in the hospital. Things happen so quickly with illnesses.  One day a person is doing okay, and the next there is some life-threatening illness occurring. I have learned how important it is to have all affairs in order.  One never knows.

I had my own appointment yesterday.  Last week, I had a "thunderclap" headache after doing a Cross Fit workout. It came on so quickly and was so stunningly painful that I could barely move.  Thankfully, the terrible pain subsided after about two minutes. And gradually the headache went away after an hour.  The trainer thought that the episode needed evaluating, so I saw my doctor yesterday.  I am getting a CT scan next week. I am sure that I am okay, but it doesn't hurt to check. Thunderclap headaches can be associated with blood leakage in vessels in the brain. Nothing to mess around with.

Today, my wife goes in for her post-operative checkup.  She is tired from the anesthesia.  But we hope to have lunch after the appointment and then come home to relax.  Both of us are ready to sail away again!

I am thankful for the calmness that I have learned through Al-Anon.  So many of these things would have had me in knots years ago. I still have concerns but realize that panic isn't an option.

Hope that your week is stress free. Or at least the stress is manageable. Later....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Thursday Morning

I am sitting in a waiting room at a local eye institute where my wife is having eye surgery this morning.  She has a congenital cataract and decided it was time to have the surgery done. 

The big bridge has been closed for a couple of days due to ice. The most recent storm was not as bad for us as the previous one, but it was much worse for neighboring counties. Ice has brought down trees and limbs, blowing transformers, and causing thousands of power outages. 

So we were on our way this morning early to get to surgery. I am no longer a morning person, as if I ever were! I stay up until midnight and almost feel drugged when I get up at 5 AM. I am thinking that a nap in front of the fire will be good later. In the meantime, C. will have an eye patch for a day.  Kind of sexy in a swashbuckling way.

I met with the fellow I used to sponsor. We had a great talk and came away with good feelings. We both acknowledged our part and then moved on to have a lot of laughs. Amazing how I have learned to not take things personally and don't have to be right or justify something I've done.

Life is good. The coming week is supposed to be warmer. It has been cold and rainy. Progress will continue on the backyard landscaping next week. And I know the birds will be happy with new plants. Meanwhile, the male cardinals continue to slam themselves against windows when they see their reflection. So far no knockouts, but mating season is definitely causing some ruffled feathers. 

Hope all of you are hanging in there with the cold weather.  Stay warm!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life changing paths

I am back at home after several days of sailing, yoga and food cleansing.  Your comments were true about it being outside of my comfort zone.  But the great thing is that I did get comfortable with the whole thing, participated in all aspects of the retreat, including yoga.  I drank the juices and ate the food.  And at the end, we all exchanged phone numbers and emails.

I'm not sure that I'll do this again simply because I may not be the best person for the job.  I know that I have a young outlook, feel young in my spirit, but dang--my back has been giving me a fit since I got back.  I am not as limber as I once was I guess!  I liked the comment that maybe my thing would be to have a science and sailing retreat.  Somehow that feels more like me.

I did commit to the 21 day cleansing diet which means that I give up eggs, wheat, sugar, peanuts, dairy, soy, and and corn.  I don't feel hungry which is good, nor do I want to rush out and eat a pizza.  And I have been doing the yoga poses for an hour each morning.  My wife smiles at me and continues to have her coffee and normal heart healthy food.  I also detected a bit of a smirk when I had trouble getting up from a chair this morning!

I think that it's a good idea to be open to new things.  I've learned in Al-Anon that I can work through the discomfort of being in a group where I am the student.  After all, one of the hardest things that I ever did was to walk through the door of my first meeting and say that I was there because I needed help.  Just mustering up the courage to go to a meeting, pick a sponsor, and trust that person enough to guide me through the steps was revolutionary in changing my life.  Maybe this is another path to be on that will also be life changing.

May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light that’s within you
Guide your way on

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A momentous day

Well, today has been monumental in many ways.  First, I am glad for the Supreme Court's decision on health care.  I'm not going to debate pros and cons here, but think that this was a momentous decision and a day of historical significance.

The second monumental thing is that my wife had a major scare on her mammogram.  She went in for her regular annual mammogram but was told that two more views needed to be done because the radiologist saw a couple of spots that warranted further investigation.  She called me to tell me what was happening.  After the two additional views and what seemed like an interminable period, the technician came in to say that the radiologist wanted an ultrasound done in a half hour.

So C.  waited, talking to me to say that she was trying to think positively and to not have anxiety.  You see, she has experience with breast cancer, having been diagnosed in 1995, and having had a mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery then.  Fortunately, her cancer was isolated to the breast.  Today, the ultrasound showed that the spots were cysts.  She will need to have another mammogram in six months but can breath easier tonight.  I feel so grateful.  I can't help but think it is no coincidence that she received this good news on the same day that health care was made a law.  Perhaps other women will be able to get mammograms and have preventive care that will save their lives.

And finally, the small but happy news from me is that I got high marks on the two exams that I took this morning.  I have three more exams to take before I can send in paperwork to the Coast Guard for issuance of a 50 ton Master's license.

Whew--a good day in so many ways.

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world. ~Pema Chödrön

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A head full

I am sneezing and sniffling this morning with a head cold.  It rained all day yesterday and into the early hours this morning.  I took advantage of the bad weather to stay indoors and rest.  I don't like being sick, but this will pass.

I think that today I'm going to stay inside today and continue to recuperate.  I have reading to do for my class.  And I've been absorbed with David Lipsky's transcript of time spent with David Foster Wallace, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.  It's hard to imagine that DFW would want this fellow following him around, asking questions over and over for weeks.  It surely would have gotten on my last nerve. When Lipsky tells Wallace: “I think you still feel you’re smarter than other people. You make a point of holding back,”.  Wallace says, “Boy, that would make me a real asshole, wouldn’t it? The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die.” Amen.

I found that Wallace's hope to get laid during book signings of Infinite Jest was sad.  He thought that someone would come up and ask him to go back to their hotel, but it didn't happen:
“I didn’t get laid on this tour. The thing about fame is interesting, although I would have liked to get laid on the tour and I did not….People come up, they kind of slither up during readings or whatever. But it seems like, what I want is not to have to take any action. I don’t want to have to say, ‘Would you like to come back to the hotel?’ I want them to say, ‘I am coming back to the hotel. Where is your hotel?’ None of ‘em do that….I just can’t stand to look like I’m actively trading on this sexually. Even though of course that’s—I would be happy to do that.”

And his remark about hard drugs was good: “If I’d ever been a heroin addict, I don’t think I’d have a problem saying it. It’s weird -- I, like -- I mean, I’m somebody who spent most of his life in libraries. I just, um, never lived that kind of dangerous life. I wouldn’t even stick a needle in my arm.” I get that completely.

And about drinking: “I was sort of a joyless drinker. I mean, I think I just used it for anesthesia…. And I saw that there’s this whole image of the writer as somebody who lives hard and drinks hard. You know, is found in amusing postures in gutters and stuff…. And I think when you are a kid, you know, and you don’t have any kind of idea of how to be what you want to be, you fall for these sort of cultural models. And the big thing about it is, I don’t have the stomach or nervous system for it.” Me either.

And then finally I'll add this quote on being alone: “When you’re meeting a whole lot of new people and having to do things you’re in—I’m in a constant low-level state of anxiety. Which produces adrenaline, and kind of shuts down—there’s a difference between short-term, people-based anxiety. And sort of deep, existential, you know, fear, that you feel all the way down to your butthole. And that, I, that’s…that’s what I’ll have when I’m alone.”  I can understand but am glad that I haven't had the "butthole" fear in a long while.

For right now, I'm going to take some cold medicine and drift off into la-la land.  I've let DFW's words be the profound ones today.  Getting laid, being smart, drugs, drinking, being alone--lots to contemplate with a head that hurts.  See you on the well side.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


It was a good day yesterday spent taking an old classic sailboat down the coast to a boat yard for surveying.  The potential buyer is coming in today.  Hopefully, the old boat will have a new owner and be restored back to her former glory.  She is a gem that was custom built in 1978 at the Cheoy Lee yard in Shanghai for a former Navy Captain and his wife.  She was sailed throughout the Pacific and then over to the East coast where she was owned by a gentleman who can no longer give her the TLC that she needs.  Yesterday, she moved like a dream, and we all enjoyed feeling the sturdiness of this boat as she was underway.

Last night, calls of confusion came in from my wife's mom.  She was saying that there had been a party and all her china was broken, she hadn't had anything to eat all day, and no one was home.  Jessica, the caregiver, called to tell us that Mom was having a bad day.  Some days she is perfectly lucid and others days she isn't.

An older friend told my wife that some caregivers abuse their patients, slamming them into wheelchairs and slapping them.  We know that Jessica and Brad are great people and treat Mom with love.  And we stop by often to see her.  I suppose that there are those who just reach the end of their rope with taking care of others, whether it's the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled,  or low bottom alcoholics.  We are supposed to have compassion, but the human psyche can only take so much stress.

Sadly, the number of people who have caregiver burnout is increasing as more caregivers take on the job without getting the help they need, or try to do more than they are able to--physically or financially.  Those who are burned out experience fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression which sometimes can result in wanting to hurt those for whom they are caring.

I think that living with active alcoholism has the effect of burnout.  All the positivity of a life can become filled with anger and frustration.  Feeling that there is no one to turn to, no one to share the secret with can create such isolation that life seems hardly worth living.  And the alcoholic is likely feeling the same way--isolated, ashamed, lonely, desperate, filled with loathing.  More than one person gets lost to the disease when there is no respite from it.

We all need breaks from whatever stressful activity we are doing.  I needed it when I was working so I would take vacation days.  We give the caregivers a break by either staying there ourselves or bringing in temporary help.  And I give myself a respite now and then for no particular reason by spending a shining day on the water on an old boat.  Just keeping things in balance. It really helps.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What money can't buy

Today, my father-in-law is supposed to be discharged from the hospital.  He is going to a nursing home where he will have a private room.  None of us, including the doctors and social worker, think that he should come home.  This is reality, but it is still difficult.

Yesterday, we put together clothes for him.  The clothes included the new ones that he got for Christmas.  It was just a little over a month ago that he was here, opening his presents, having a good meal, and sharing Christmas with us.  He seemed happy.  We added his new robe to the pile of clothes--the one that he got for his birthday on January 15.  Something happened between the time we gave him these things and now.

I talked to a lady after the meeting last night.  She said that her father went crazy after recent surgery, hitting his son, spitting on her, screaming and throwing things.  He is now in restraints and is wearing a face mask at a local hospital.  She said, "This isn't my dad. What happened?".  I don't know really.  What I think is that parts of the brain are dying, and the circuitry that is left isn't really enough to sustain what used to be a sociable person.

I have learned that money talks in all of this. It is all about money.  The nursing home manager wanted to know whether there was enough money for him to have a private room and for his wife to have her 24 hour a day caregivers at home.  Is this something that is any of her business?  I don't know.  I simply said "Yes.".  She was sure there was a great room for him then.

The bank manager was suspicious of my wife when she went to inquire about how much her dad had withdrawn when he escaped with the car the other afternoon.  She was told that he did not want her to have access to any of his accounts.  C. said she felt like a criminal but bravely produced the durable POA.  The bank manager then asked her a lot of questions about what happened and how he seemed so nice the other afternoon, just before he came home and went crazy.  None of her business, but C. answered as best she could: "I don't know really. He just went berserk. Maybe dementia or Alzheimer's. We don't know."

We left the bank knowing that we had to find the money he withdrew and deposit it back in the bank.  Eventually, we found it--a fat stack of $100 dollar bills.  What was he planning to do with it?  It was enough to pay for one month in the nursing home or go on a nice cruise to the Mediterranean.  I don't know.

There is so much that we don't know right now.  What we do know is that he will be in a safe place, have a nice room, be well taken care of, have clothes and food.  But he won't be with his family.  Money can't buy that.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


I spent five hours yesterday in the ER waiting while my mother-in-law was checked over and given some kind of "rocket" enema that caused her to finally become unconstipated.  No shit!

Waiting around the ER is interesting.  I am glad that I haven't had to spend too much time in them.  The times that I have spent there have been difficult, some more than others. This was the ER that they brought my mother to after she collapsed.  She died on the way there.  The doctors and clergy took me back to the enclosed area where she was lying.  I stayed with her there for a while--those private moments of raw emotions.  My father-in-law arrived, and he cried when he saw my mother.

I have been to ER several times for both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law during their various health crises over the past year.  And my wife was brought here after being bitten by a copperhead and having a stingray spine go through her leg.  It's not a place that I want to hang out in for long though.

Yesterday things were pretty quiet until we were leaving the ER. One of the nurses said that there were multiple GSW's coming in.  There were over six ambulances coming in.  I later heard on the news that multiple people in a family were involved in a domestic situation with two people in critical condition.

It feels odd to be standing in the midst of all of this.  Surreal really.  It is like being in a movie.  I wanted to get out of there but had to wait until the ambulances were unloaded and the wounded taken inside.  This morning the paper had a small article about the shootings, noting that Christmas lights were still up at the house. A hand-painted sign at one home near the shooting scene read: "Jesus is the Reason ... Be thankful God is Good."

I'm glad to be back home.  I'm glad to be away from hospitals.  It feels far removed to be here, sitting on the couch at home, with a couple of cats curled up next to me and sleeping dogs nearby.  This hospital visit had a good outcome. I hope that the shooting victims have a good outcome.  We are a violent society, becoming more so all the time.

Today, I'm loading up a few things for the drive to Florida.  It will take about 10 hours to get to the destination.  I hope to be heading back home on Wednesday. It's a quick trip to help out a friend.  Happy New Year to you. Ya'll be safe, okay?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fishing photos and update

We had a good day fishing.  It was therapeutic to get out on the water and enjoy a warm day, beautiful scenery, and some seafood.  Here are some photos from our day:
The Sea Island Yacht Club where we launched the boat. An old building and an old club.  

A spot-tail bass that was the object of the day.  We catch and release. 

The fishing "hole" where the spot tails like to feed on the dropping tide. 

An eagle's nest--look for it near the middle of the photo.  
The clamming creek where on low tide we can rake up quite a few. 

Raking for clams which was productive!

Our clam take for the day.  These went into linguine with clam sauce. 
I feel as if I haven't had much to write about lately, except living life on life's terms.  That is a benefit of recovery--not fighting what comes but doing my best to accept and take positive action.  Here are some things that I have been doing:

--Contacting people for the caregiver position.  This is proving to be more difficult than I thought.  Good pay, a comfortable house, all expenses paid--I thought that there would be more people applying.  I was naive because it seems that there is much demand for caregivers.  And this is likely to be a field that only increases as we all age.  We have a couple of people that we are interviewing tomorrow.

--Working on the boat which will likely take 2-3 more weeks before going to haul out at the boat yard.  Lots of priming and filling.  But she is looking good.

--Going to meetings and meeting with those I sponsor.  I find that I can expunge the drama of life by going to a meeting.  I feel the weight lifted.  I am among others who live with drama every day, and somehow, we manage to feel a bit lighter after being together for an hour.  This never ceases to amaze me.

--Walking with the dogs in the morning.  We do about a mile together before any of us have breakfast.  They love it, and we get some time to enjoy the property and look for animal tracks.

What I haven't been doing is getting around to all the blogs that I like to read.  I will catch up at some point.  I have literally felt overwhelmed with the caregiver situation.  But I can see that creativity in thinking--split shifts and other ways to get coverage 24/7--is helping.  All will be okay.

Have a good day.  And if you are a veteran, thanks for what you have done.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The forgotten

I was listening to music this morning as I cooked breakfast. John Prine's "Hello in There" was playing. It's about an old couple who are lonely and basically forgotten. For me, it is an incredibly sad song:

"Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen.

Someday I'll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do."

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello."

Th thought of being old and alone has haunted me for a long time. I know somehow that is what will happen. It will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. And it makes me sad.

Maybe that is why I am so glad to talk to old people and not pass them by. I went by an adult day care the other day and the folks there were happy to chat and share some stories. So many old people are left in nursing homes. They desperately want someone to notice them and to take time to say "Hello".

My parents-in-law will not be among the forgotten. The live-in couple are there. All seems to be going well. I am relieved. My wife is cautiously optimistic. If they can get past the political opinions of my father-in-law, the situation may work.

I know that if we are lucky enough, we will live to be old. Medical technology helps us to live longer. How we live and what we have to look forward to is largely up to us. I cannot think about being alone in the future. Today, I can give a smile and a kind word to those who desperately need it. No one need be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Under the weather and more for Wednesday

I have come down with a cold.  I don't feel so bad but have lost my voice.  I now sound like a deep croaking baritone.  I hope to not let the cold slow me down but coughing all the time is annoying.  It also makes people look at me with a bit of disgust, probably thinking that I am a smoker who is on his last few bronchial cells.

Today I worked at a friend's house on rebuilding his marine diesel engine.  It felt good to get some grease under the nails and on my hands.  He was my instructor for the marine engine maintenance class that I took last year.  We replaced the thermostat, rebuilt the raw water pump, and did some compression testing on the engine.  For the last few hours, I had to use hand signals because I couldn't talk.  I did manage to croak out a "Thank you" for the great dinner they fixed.

After I got home,  I helped put up some of the fall decorations.  Every season, we enjoy changing decorations.  Spooky spiders, fall foliage, rolling eyeballs, and lit pumpkins are some of the fun things that we use to decorate for fall.  Here are just a few photos of what we do:
Pumpkins are put outside and inside the house. 

This eyeball lights up when you roll it around. 

Pumpkin lights are fun in one of the garage windows. 

And who wouldn't be scared of this!
I'm not sure who gets more of a kick out of this: the wild animals or me.  I don't know what the deer and raccoons think of the skeleton.  It gives me the creeps a bit.

We hope to go on the boat for the weekend.  The weather is supposed to turn cool on Saturday.  The low may be around 49 F.   I can't wait.  Enough with the humidity and a very hot summer.  I am ready for blue skies, crisp weather, and the smell of autumn.

Well, that's about it from here.  I am going to say good night.  Hopefully,  I'll be a bit more coherent tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So now we know

We had a very early AM meeting with the doctors treating C's dad.  He has cirrhosis of the liver.  Although he hasn't had a drink in years,  his liver was likely compromised from contracting hepatitis and malaria during his war time duties in the Pacific.  Alcohol consumption for most of his life further added to stress on the liver.  The amount of alcohol it takes to damage the liver varies greatly from person to person. For women, consuming two to three drinks—including beer and wine—per day and for men, three to four drinks per day, can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis.

The bleeding that he has been experiencing is caused by esophageal varices.  As the liver works harder to process the bodies toxins,  blood pressure builds in the hepatic portal system.   Normally, blood from the intestines and spleen is carried to the liver through the portal vein.  But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood, which increases the pressure in the portal vein.  When pressure builds in the hepatic portal system, it may cause enlarged blood vessels in the esophagus, called varices.  He has a number of varices that are banded every time he goes into the hospital.  The enlarged blood vessels burst from the thin walls of the esophagus and increased pressure. When this happens, there is serious bleeding that can result in death if not treated immediately.

We did not know that he had cirrhosis until yesterday.  He was a heavy drinker for much of his life, tapering off as he got older.  Not too many years ago, he was in danger of developing type 2 diabetes and was told to change his diet and to cut out alcohol consumption.  He did that with no problem. 

I explained this to a friend last night who said, "Well, the liquor finally got him at age 90."  (There is actually a joke about this but will save that for another time).  When I think about someone in their forties or fifties with cirrhosis and dying from internal bleeding,  I realize how fortunate my father-in-law is that he has made it to age 90.  Now we know that at his age,  there isn't much that can be done other than to treat each emergency as it occurs.

But for those who are still out there drinking alcoholically,  there is still time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heart sounds

I have had this annoying fluttering in my chest lately.  I know that these are heart palpitations.  I used to have these when I drank caffeine.  But over the last several years, I quit drinking caffeinated beverages of any kind.  So I think that this newest bout of heart flutters may be related to stress.

I suppose that I have had a few things to be stressed about over the past several months.  I definitely have been on edge a bit more lately because some of the people around me are having difficulties.  That being said,  I take care of myself by eating right, exercising, and relaxing.  I am not overweight, don't smoke, and seldom even have a beer.  But I have an active and inquisitive mind.  And I am the product of a life of living with alcoholism.  I suppose though that just having issues on the mind can cause a certain amount of stress. Some of those issues seem to not be immediately resolvable by me, so I have no need to spend time thinking about solutions.  I know all these things intuitively, yet the feeling of a shoe getting ready to drop continues.

I am going to see the cardiologist that I went to before when I had those heart sounds that he thought were nothing to worry about.  He suggested that I stop the caffeine.  I wonder what he will say this time: "Stop this life of feeling responsible. Get rid of the stress." Yes, I am doing what I can on that. 

I am going to take it easy today.  I have a meeting tonight.  I did sleep at home last night in my own comfortable bed.  I realize that I can't divest my life of all stress.  These are stressful times. And I have to deal with what comes my way.  But the heart fluttering is a reminder that I may not be letting things go as readily as I thought.  I have a residual feeling of anxiety that seems to have wormed its way into my psyche.  I want my heart sounds to be strong. I want to be kind to myself and not take on the weight of the world.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


My solution for what I wrote about yesterday was to talk directly to the boat and business owner. I expressed my concerns over what I had heard and observed. I mentioned that another person who has been on the boat during tours made a similar observation.

The owner listened to my concerns and said that he will have a talk with the fellow about being too friendly with the kids and not being professional. He obviously does not want any problems with his business. I know that I did the right thing by going to the owner with my concerns. If nothing improves by the time that tours for school children resume in the fall, then I will say something to the fellow himself.

I realize that Live and Let Live does not mean condoning inappropriate behavior. And it doesn't mean that I stand idly by while harm is being done. My tendency is to be direct and not mince words. I simply need to process things a bit before I take action. Many times in the past I have shot from the lip in a reaction and regretted not taking time to THINK. When I can check to make sure that what I am saying is thoughtful, helpful, intelligent, necessary and kind, then I am on solid ground. I believe that I did that in this situation. Thanks as always for your input.

On other matters, C. and I are taking shifts in staying with her parents at night. There is help during the day but not at night. I stayed last night and will be staying for the next two nights. Her mom needs help getting to the toilet. I am strong enough to do this. I am glad to help out. We are cooking healthy meals for them. Last night, I read to her mom until she dozed off. C. has put fresh flowers in the room and sachets of lavender about. Many of these ideas came from a great post on Recovery Archive that helped me to move past any awkwardness I felt. I am grateful to Irish for her posting following the death of her dad.

Although the carefree retirement days are temporarily in hiatus, it is all okay. Even Huck Finn had a hiatus from his river life but eventually got back to it.

"It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened."
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Home again

C. is now home.  She walked up the lane from the mailbox.  For most of the day she has dozed.  She has eaten very little and has little appetite.  But she is getting up on her own, resting in a comfortable chair and has on her favorite bath robe.  I know that she will be okay.  She will have to be especially careful for the next six weeks--no driving, mild exercise, good diet, no lifting, and cardiac rehab.

As for me, I have been hovering.  I have to stop doing that because it not only doesn't help her, but it readily makes me crazy.  I realize that I am not wanting to be a caretaker, yet I feel as if I need to be doing something.  I have the medications organized.  I have cooked dinner.  I took care of the dogs.  I am sleeping on the couch tonight to be near her in case she needs something.  That is all I can do.  I cannot make her well any sooner.  But I surely can make myself crazy.

Tomorrow I am going to go to my boat for a few hours.  Her parents are coming over to visit.  They don't drive after dark and are not early risers any more.  But they will be able to stay for a few hours to allow me to go to the marina.  I am hoping for a break for a few hours each day.  I consider this to be essential to my own mental health.  I need a certain amount of time to myself, time in the outdoors,  and time to be free of routine. 

For a while this afternoon,  I felt totally at a loss. I felt as if I wanted to flee. The whole idea of care taking seemed overwhelming. Then I thought about how grateful I am that I am healthy and my wife is alive.  Not that many years ago,  she would be dead.  Instead she is mending and is doing well.  That is enough to get me over myself and my self pity.  It will be one day at a time.  I can do that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Acknowledging Fear

Tomorrow morning the surgeons will do their job to bypass the blocked vessels and restore blood flow to C.'s heart.  She is my heart, so I hope that they do a good job.  I have had a few moments of fear today.  But when I feel its fingers worming their way into my head, I say the Serenity Prayer which has been a mantra since I began recovery.  I realize that what happens is beyond my control. 

Today there was a stream of visitors coming to see her.  Colleagues from work,  fellow AA members, and her parents stopped by.  She was tired at the end of the afternoon.  I have had calls from Al-Anon members and that has helped me as well.  Your comments are most appreciated.  Thank you for thinking of us. People want to know what they can do.  Just sending positive thoughts and knowing that people care is good right now. 

I am planning to unload a pick up truck load of mulch and enriched soil for the garden over the next couple of days.  It helps me to stay busy. And it is time to plant potatoes and take care of the plants in the green house.  I know that C. would be sad if her beloved garden was not ready.  

I sat with my feelings today.  I acknowledged my fear.  I am not going to dwell on "why" or "what if".  I am doing what I know how to do--staying positive.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A reminder

After I wrote the happy post this morning,  my wife walked into the room and told me that she had pain in her chest and a numbness in her left arm.  She asked that I take her to the hospital that is about 35 minutes from home.  I asked her to lie down, and I called 911.  She was clammy and pale.  I gave her an aspirin to chew and waited next to her until the EMTs arrived.

She is now in the cardiac intensive care unit and will have bypass surgery on Friday morning.  She had a heart attack with some damage to the heart but the extent of that isn't known yet.  Three of her vessels are blocked.  She is in good spirits and is taking this in stride, as much as one can.   I am relieved that she is in the best possible place for heart problems as the heart and vascular center is superb here. 

I feel a lot of emotions right now.  How quickly life can change from one moment to the next.  I am reminded that every moment is precious. I know that this is part of something bigger than I am.  And, yes, I am powerless over the outcome.  That is in the hands of her surgeons and her HP.

I am planning to read and comment on blogs when I can.  She and I have many friends in both fellowships.  You are here in support and friendship as well.  Your positive thoughts for her are much appreciated.  I am planning to keep to my usual routine as much as I can, minus going on the boat.  That will be delayed for some time.  The most important thing to me now is having my loved one be well.  As one of my favorite bloggers writes, "Every day matters".  Yes, it does.  It surely does.


I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was concerned about a problem my wife was having.  She went  for a CAT scan last week and yesterday she had an internal exam.  Thankfully, the problem is a benign cyst.  She was in some discomfort last night from all the poking and prodding, but relieved that there was nothing more serious. 

For a few moments over these couple of weeks,  I had let my mind project "what if" scenarios: What if she has cancer? What if I lose her?  And I actually wondered whether her drinking for so many years would now be manifesting itself in serious health issues. Thankfully, I didn't dwell on any of that for long.  I know that whatever happens, we will deal with it.  And that it is much better for me to simply live in the day and not concoct something that has not happened. 

We both have excellent medical care.  We get lots of exercise, staying mentally and physically active.  I think that having ones good health is a precious thing. In fact, that is one of the reasons that I never smoked or drank much--I wanted to keep myself in good physical and mental condition.  I don't focus on the aches and pains that happen from sailing, gardening, and a lot of other physical activity that I do.  Instead I keep the muscles going.  I plan to eek as much out of life as I can by being physically fit.

Today, I am getting an old aluminum john boat ready for a trip to Cape Romain Lighthouse tomorrow.  We will be using the john boat, Oardacity, as a tender for the sailboat.  I have rebuilt the transom and today will put a block of styrofoam floatation under each seat. 

Our plan is to go up the ICW as far as we can tomorrow, anchor for the night and then proceed the rest of the way to a deep creek near McClellanville where we will anchor.  The ICW or "ditch" as it is unaffectionately known is shallow and not really suited for the sailboat whose draft is fairly deep.  I will try not to mud bog her. 

Once we get to Five Fathom creek, we can then take the john boat and meander through the creeks to get to Cape Romain Light on Saturday where an old fellow we know will be opening it up.  He was born at the lighthouse, and Saturday is his birthday. 

I am looking forward to taking lots of photos, touring the old lighthouse, and hopefully hearing some stories about what it was like to grow up there.  This fellow will be celebrating 80 years on Saturday.  His health is not good and his temperament even worse.  But it is a chance to capture a piece of this Lowcountry landscape that I so love.  And a chance to hear some stories of what it was like to be a kid growing up with the birds and the water and marsh as your entertainment.  I am reminded of one of my favorite poems:

 It was my thirtieth year to heaven
     Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
        And the mussel pooled and the heron
                Priested shore
           The morning beckon
     With water praying and call of seagull and rook
     And the knock of sailing boats on the webbed wall
           Myself to set foot
                That second
        In the still sleeping town and set forth.

        My birthday began with the water-
     Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
        Above the farms and the white horses
                And I rose
            In a rainy autumn
     And walked abroad in shower of all my days
     High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                And the gates
        Of the town closed as the town awoke.

        A springful of larks in a rolling
     Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
        Blackbirds and the sun of October
            On the hill's shoulder,
     Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
     Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
            To the rain wringing
                Wind blow cold
        In the wood faraway under me.

        Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
     And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
        With its horns through mist and the castle
                Brown as owls
             But all the gardens
     Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
     Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
             There could I marvel
                My birthday
        Away but the weather turned around.

        It turned away from the blithe country
     And down the other air and the blue altered sky
        Streamed again a wonder of summer
                With apples
             Pears and red currants
     And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
     Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
             Through the parables
                Of sunlight
        And the legends of the green chapels

        And the twice told fields of infancy
     That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
        These were the woods the river and the sea
                Where a boy
             In the listening
     Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
     To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
             And the mystery
                Sang alive
        Still in the water and singing birds.

        And there could I marvel my birthday
     Away but the weather turned around. And the true
        Joy of the long dead child sang burning
                In the sun.
             It was my thirtieth
        Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
        Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
             O may my heart's truth
                Still be sung
        On this high hill in a year's turning.
"Poem in October" by Dylan Thomas