Category Archives: caregiving.

Felonious intent

Hither, thither and yon. Now I’m 62. Three birthday meals are plenty! Earrings, a bracelet, a length of shibori ribbon, and a felted scarf. One memoir. One phone call. A check. Tulips and chocolate. I’d say it was a banner year.

Oh, and I’m to order a dress and pair of shoes, courtesy of my sister. She insists. The shoes are pointy and printed with flowers. I love them. The dress is faux patchwork, but not in a cheesy way.

In other news, life pounds along. Hospital bed delivered today. New aide seems to be working out. Need for weekend help noted. Bank account blocked and funds transferred to new account. (“YOU GAVE THEM YOUR ROUTING NUMBER, TOO?!”) Online predators promising computer help. She didn’t know. We’re all of us, I think, at one time or another so desperate for tech help, we might do something equally stupid.

The misstep had me at Salem Five Bank this morning, power of attorney in hand. I was desperate to pee. Angel the clerk suggested that I go to CVS — contacting legal would take a minute anyhow. But lo! CVS toilet out of order. I think I yelped. Nearly dropped the popsicles and antihistamines gathered for my sister. We’re talking two cups of coffee. Almost an hour in the car. A bad stretch of bumpy road approaching Essex Street. On my way back to Salem Five, I looked around for possible places to relieve myself. A dirty but tall snow bank. A dumpster screened by a fence. I’ve peed in less dignified places.

Back at the counter, I asked Angel again. “Please? So I don’t have to pee behind the snow bank?” I used the word ‘mercy,’ but didn’t think to tie it to her name.

Angel was having none of it. She said, “The problem is we’d have to walk past the vault.”

Does comedy improve bladder function? Or heighten patience? Because I was suddenly fine.

Picture it: me, in a dusty black down coat that drapes to my ankles. A head of grey hair. Newly 62. So short my eyes are nearly level with Angel’s name plaque.

There must’ve been felonious intent written all over me, right?

All at once, I could imagine it. The most devious of heist planners sending someone precisely like me to plead for use of the toilet, playing the old lady card, just to gain access to the vault!

Reflection

How long before I realize that it makes me truly happy to feed the birds?

How long before I act as though kindness mattered above all else?

How long before I realize that I don’t need (or even want) most of my belongings?

How long before I fully recognize that working on a miniature scale is right for me?


How long until I feel that I have a right to the workings of my imagination, no matter how the cultural dialogue is unfolding (though ignoring the dialogue is impermissable)?

What if I could act as if everything was happening, not according to plan per se, but in its right and true time? In other words, what if all delinquencies were forgiven or rendered irrelevant? How liberating a thought!

** A huge thanks to all the recent lovely and thoughtful comments. Thank you. It really means a lot to me. Thank you, again.

How it goes

Ever have a day when everything changes, but nothing does, really?

It was cold when I drove K to the train at 6:30 this morning and still cold when I headed up to Salem an hour later. A desperate call. Abandoned coffee.

Two nurses showed up. First, the usual business of taking vitals and checking in. They know my sister. They know me.

But then, for the third time in five weeks the question arose: should my sister go to the hospital?

She didn’t feel well, was sleepy and lethargic. Breathing labored. Wanted to know if I was wearing a tuxedo.

The talk went ’round. Her leg would need antibiotics and if she stayed home, she would need more care. A lot more care. Time to switch to hospice.

She said ‘no’ to the hospital. She signed the pink form: Do not resuscitate. Do not intubate. No C-pap or IV nutrition. No admission to a hospital. No dialysis.

Now my sister was chatty and engaged, her relief palpable. The change in her attitude made me think she’d made the right decision and perhaps that it was overdue.

Later, yet another capable nurse arrived to explain how the new care plan would work. I ran to Stop and Shop for drugs and lunch.

I drove home in silence.

Most likely I’ll tag this post ‘private’ in the near future, but it helps to put it down and to share briefly.

Friday before the snow

My sister is cheered. The hospital turkey burger was delicious. They’ve dropped talk of rehab. Maybe a Monday release?

I’m relieved too. The earlier call had been spiked with overheard hostility. Taking on the entire staff, she was, refusing PT, objecting to turkey with no mayo.

I boarded the cat yesterday after a full morning of cleaning my sister’s apartment. Maddy the Tuxedo is in the very building where we adopted Jack all those years ago, poor little ballsy Jack whose first act as a family member was to piss all over my elder son’s ankle. At the time it seemed a bit of an outrage. Now I wonder if he wasn’t marking C as his own.

Dog people — what do you make of that?

A pewter sky portends snow. They’re saying some amount, then freezing rain. I’m wishing I’d wrapped our arbor vitae. Maybe tomorrow? I could use yards and yards of fabric from my stash, making the precaution double as a ‘fabric installation’. Then again, I might do nothing.

Meanwhile, I have friends to thank for getting through what at times feels like an ordeal. Thank you.

In closing let me say, I think I finally believe the twitter prognosticators who say the shoe is about to drop. What an avalanche of bad news for the poor fucking fool at the top!

Teeny preview and garbage pick up

Re: Etsy

I’m swearing that this time I’ll be organized. It used to be when something sold I’d panic because half the time I had no idea where the object got off to. Can you imagine?

In this house, with windows everywhere and decorated walls, taking professional-looking product shots is challenging. Not this time! I’m going to dedicate one of the boys’ rooms to photography. Whee! Lights and props out (and left out) is a prescription for ease.

I have a notebook ready for pen and paper notes. No more languishing listings! But more to the point of a well-groomed shop, everything’s gonna be done on my phone. That’s how I know it’s gonna be different. A whole new level of access and attention!

(As readers here might know, I have an inexplicable aversion to sitting at the desktop).

Hospital update: it looks like N might be staying through the weekend. Longer than I expected. While her new subsidized housing is great, with the move she lost the neighbors who used to check in on her cat. Damn!

The nurses and doctors are taking good care of my sister. That’s something to be grateful for.

Lastly, walking Finn an hour ago this happened: a big green monster of a garbage truck barreled past on its hungry quest for abandoned Christmas trees. Usually these trucks leave a malodorous trail. Imagine my delight to smell balsam instead — great heady wafts of it lasting the entire block.

AND, just as that pleasant sensation unfolded at street level, a red tailed hawk flew directly overhead, close — just above the power lines.

How about that?

Gratitude at year’s end

It took time to make all the calls — to the caseworker at the hospital, the caseworker at the caregiving agency, the O-2 people, the nurses at Davenport 7, my sister, and then all of them again. I had the time.

When the scanner on our printer didn’t work, I took pictures of her eight page health care proxy and emailed them (today’s FAX?). My sister turns 64 today and is waiting to get the okay to go home, which because of her oxygen needs, will be by ambulance.

I grocery shopped early, made lentil soup midday, and lamb for dinner. Calls all in between. Here, we all read and watched a little TV in a comfortable, restorative quiet.

I am ever so grateful.

For these legs that walk. For a body I can maneuver in and out of cars. For the car. For money to buy food, including lamb, which I love. For a pile of Christmas novels, one of which I finished yesterday.

I am grateful for the health care professionals that took over ordering the home oxygen and guaranteed that it would be in place at my sister’s return (I was struggling to figure out how to make that happen). I am grateful for the nurses, doctors, and social workers who know what to do and do it well, even on Christmas Eve and Day. I am grateful for Medicare and MassHealth. The costly intervention will not cost my sister a single penny. And good thing, too, because she has no spare pennies.

We will bring champagne and cookies, order Japanese for lunch, and deliver — you guessed it — another owl!

(I better post this now because a trio of leaf blowers over at the school and day three of tree work are getting on my nerves. And my sister just called to report not just delays in her release but idiotic tinkering with her meds).

Wending our way

We are frail. We are resilient. There comes grace and aid but also failure and the pull to extinction. We are wending our way, one and all, from birth to the grave. Hallelujah. No really: hallelujah.

Yesterday on the phone, my sister’s doctor poo poo’d me. Her oxygen levels were fine. She was likely just upset about her aide’s departure. I announced, “I’m ten minutes from calling 911.” A short time later, he made a house visit. He called 911.

What a way to spend Christmas! She was admitted last night and is now comfortable. Getting oxygen and other meds she needs. Today, K and I went first to the apartment — put out a few days’ worth of food for her cat; took out garbage; put away the bags of delivered groceries that had been abandoned. Next, we went to the hospital for a brief visit.

We are frail. We are resilient.

The seven of us that shared Christmas Eve dinner have our own impressive list of diagnoses. We aren’t particularly unusual or unhealthy. Just human.

The sense of mortality pervading this Christmas Day, believe it or not, has a holier cast than the usual holiday.

Merry Christmas, dear readers. Hope it is a warm and safe holiday for one and all!