Saturday, February 28, 2009
A Brandnew Motto, A Brandnew Day.
So much is happening here, I hardly know where to begin, to tell you about it. It should have some kind of title, a motto. What comes to mind is: "If I can't beat 'em, join 'em."

The knee surgery that was suppose to be so simple intensified when an ugly infection interferred with the healing. and that delayed the physical therapy, but we're doing well with PT. The therapist is such a neat person, and excellent in leading me through it. While going to the therapy place I've met some nice people. One I'm sure God put in my path to keep me focused in the right way, is Alice, the receptionist there.

A tiny cone like thing, such as you see warning you floors may be wet, sets at Alice's work area. Its bright letters caution: "Entering chaos section". If you have time to talk with someone you can learn a lot about them. I was telling Alice how my knee replacements set off metal detector alarms, and she replied, "I know what you mean. The metal parts the surgeon put in my heart does that, too". Like I said, I am sure God arranged for me to meet Alice.

I was on high level after doing my first PT session, and the grocery store isn't far away, so I tried using my wobbly legs there, and later regretted it. But it was nice getting out of the house, and not thinking about critters for a while. Before I got home I stopped at the bank, too, and that was more than enough for my first outing.

I am taking my homework exercises seriously, and can tell they are helping. But it does sometimes feel like I have a boring schedule. Is that why these uninvited animals chose this time to try to move into my house? There's been several sleepless nights, shortened by their noises. My bedroom looks more like a war zone, than an inviting place to get over surgery.

I have to work at not feeling down, and decided the best medicine would be an overdue hair cut. I don't know why it's hard to get a beautician to hear you tell them how you want it cut, but it's a problem. I decided if I'm not getting a good cut anyway, might as well take my chances with someone new.

After I did another round of physical therapy, I went to a new shop. I was a real mess, hurting some, not really feeling up to going, and this lady had time to do the cut. Before we started I asked the price, and if they took credit cards, but they didn't, and I was about to just go home and forget it. But she was nice. Almost led me by the hand to a work station, and when I didn't have check or cash, said I could pay her later. She did a really good job, and remembered tiny details, like getting rid of hair on your neck.

She has a cute little sign at her work area, that says: "I'm a beautician, not a magician". Immediately we connected well. The next day before I drove over to pay her, I got her some real roses, not a big arrangement, but enough to let her know I appreciated the haircut without an appointment. It felt good to suprise her, for a little while to not think about smelly critters.

We caught a large skunk, but I'm sure there's more because the odor is so bad. Another trap is set, and we keep hoping. My son will be doing work around the edges of the house. Nights here would be comical if the problem didn't go on so.

When I go to bed, I don't know if I'll get enough sleep, or be waked several times. I leave lights on, hoping they prefer darkness. Near my bed are various things I can use to make noise, if they get very loud. The one time I played Springsteen for them did not help. I think it only upset them, and upset skunks are not fun to have around. Some nights, feeling tired, I just get deeper under the covers, and though it feels a little silly, I ask God to help me get some sleep.

Last night, while one or more of them was sprinting around, I had to do something to keep me on an even keel, so I sat up in bed, and read the things I usually start my day with. I did not do physical therapy exercises while those awful creatures were ruining my sleep. Even nice ladies like me, do have limits, and I hope to have better news about this soon.

  posted at 5:17 PM  

Friday, February 20, 2009
Moving On, Moving On.
Twenty six days, and counting since I checked into the hospital, twenty six days, before what I thought would be a fairly simple kind of surgery I was already familiar with, from having had it once before. Everything went as it needed to. I was able to come home extra early, and was priding myself on how well everything went, until an infection changed everything.

Ten days of antibiotics took care of it, and now I'm trying to put rehab and how life was before surgery back on track. Like other parts of our lives, I think we can learn from it. Having so much "down" time affords me the pleasure of contemplating serious things of life, like "when I grow up, what would I like to be". I say this in a poking fun at myself kind of way, but those who really know me, understand I could not be more serious.

These last few days I've felt like most everything has fled from seriousness. I've battled the frustration of dealing with creatures, or critters, depending upon your perception of how important or non-important they may be.

I am weary of this. My son has done what he can to help with it, and "The Bug Man" company stands ready to haul off anything caught in the baited trap. Partly jesting, my son said the way to make whatever it is leave, would be to strategically set up delayed popping firecrackers and sirens sounding, as this uninvited thing climbs stairs from the basement. Being kinder hearted, I suggested we wall off part of the basement and get a lawyer to make an animal lease required for anything that wants to stay here. To help me feel safer, I think, my son ended his advice by saying he does not think skunks and squirrels chew through wooden floors. I am still trying to decide whether he meant it as solace, or down home (pardon the pun) humor.

This time I've been away from work, while it requires stretching dollars, has been more valuable than many moons of paychecks. One might think before they're my age, they might have figured this all out, but logic denies that. I think most of us find ourselves in a hamster cage kind of existence so busy pushing those unceasing pedals, we don't get around to considering how we'd like to live, or, if we even do a little imagining, it remains untested.

For years I've straddled those ever turning pedals, thinking I was getting somewhere. There is satisfaction knowing you're doing something that helps others, a work that's even considered somewhat godly, but God also insists that we revere ourselves, not because we're perfect, but because He made us, and I've not been doing that.

The book I happily started writing last year, I've so neglected I can't even find the copies I made. But I have done one thing that I think will help me get going with it again. I've decided to just write the next chapter, and the next one after that, and leave corrections til later. Not worry about perfection, just tell how it was, even if, maybe especially if, some of it was raw. My confidence is not very high yet, but maybe as I create what I'm yearning to tell women, it will grow.

Having everything exactly in place has never been required by our Lord, but only that we do our best. You will hear more about this as I'm able to share it.

But now, back to this unhappy problem in my house, that more and more (really) smells like it's a skunk, I am setting down my literary dreams for the night, and in a few minutes will start a CD, a Bruce Springsteen I wish would run all night, so it might go some place more quiet, or at least I won't hear it if it starts chewing something, or I may just crawl under the covers, and pray really hard that God keeps me safe through the night, and I deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.

  posted at 8:09 PM  

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Who's Moving Which Way Here.
I had great ideas about an overdue post I wanted to share with you. I took time to read again the entire book of Job, looking for choice parts of it I hoped to use, to show you what I've been dealing with, while getting over this surgery.

At the risk of seeming like a whiner, I intended to tell you how indignant I felt, when one of my expensive man made teeth came loose and fell out. It is frustrating enough that I'm so overdue for a hair cut I failed to get before the surgery, and now it has to wait even longer. But this gaping hole where the tooth used to be, really takes away from what beauty I have left.

I am doing well, I think, with mostly ignoring housework, and things needing tidying up. I've even gotten good at ignoring dishes that need washing. There will be plenty of them to deal with after the knee is well.

Last night I started telling you all this, but suddenly felt a huge distraction only a short way from this computer. I wanted to believe I was only imaging what I was hearing. But whatever it was just kept making grating sounds that seemed to get louder. But what do you do with something like that at one a.m.? I mean, where would I get any help with it at that an outrageous hour? I decided to leave it alone, and after a while the scary sounds faded.

What sleep I got the rest of the night was in scattered pieces. At three a.m., I gave up on sleeping, tossed my cover aside, and started coffee. Somewhere between then and daylight, I dozed a little, but not much.

That's what's been going on here, until the start of last night. Whatever the character is that's messing with my sleep, if not my life, just shouldn't have started in again like it did last night. Clint Eastwood isn't the only soul who knows his limitations. I hadn't even pulled the cover up last night, until it all began again.

I lay there, feeling the rage in me rise, and didn't even care if my missing tooth made me look scarier. I made my plan. Got an animal control number from our local police, and called, but was told I would have to contact a pest control company. So I did. Left a frantic message about five or six a.m., so maybe my call might be one of the first they dealt with in the morning.

Knowing I couldn't sleep, I picked up a favorite book, Time Magazine's "Great People of the 20th Century", and while I waited for the phone to ring, read pages of Winston Churchill's life. I will need to read it again, but that's not the point. Reading it last night was to keep from going ape.

I did, a little anyway, when the scratching, scraping sounds began. I went right to the kitchen, and found things I could bang, got so carried away I broke my plastic pancake flipper. But I got the satisfaction , if only for a moment, of making that critter be quiet.

Whatever it is, we'll find out before the sun sets again. The company I called is named "The Bug Man". Their full page ad names a lot of unruly characters, which most likely includes the one that's after my sanity here. An inviting trap is baited and ready for it.

The man who set it up even put it in a plastic bag, so when it's caught, it's all ready to travel out of here. He thinks it's either a skunk, or some kind of big squirrel.

After the pest control man returned my call, I lay back on my wrinkled pillow, wishing critter removal didn't cost so much. Just last week I learned that part of America's Stimulous Package includes seniors (like me) getting a few hundred bucks. My first thought on it was that it would take care of most of a plane ticket to fly down to daughter, Bev's new home in Texas. But I'm sure she'll agree getting rid of whatever it is, is much more pressing now, and I will find another way to get to Texas.

As a small postscript, I will make it a point to let all of you know what kind of critter the "Bug Man" captures. After I made the call, I leaned back on my pillow and smiled, for sleep will come again. I will not be defeated by some silly, surly

  posted at 10:23 AM  

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Love.... Like A Warm Fuzzy Blanket.
Only a few posts back I said I'd stop blogging about this knee, and the surgery it caused. But I'm stuck here. Don't know how to get beyond it, without sharing it with you.

When I knew there'd be surgery, the first thing I did was count the days until I could drive again. Marked it on my monthly planner. This Monday would be three weeks, plenty long enough to be in good shape for using wheels again. But I won't be driving myself anywhere soon. My faithful son will be taking me back and forth to the doctor.

After surgery everything was going well. Anything around the house I couldn't handle, I ignored. Family and friends visited, called, surprised me with flowers and other thoughtful things, The visiting nurse and physical therapist were here so much, sometimes I just wanted them to go away.

Everything seemed good, everything except that old surgical enemy called Infection. Signs crept in. Redness and edema (swelling), and overly warm and shiny skin. The doctor and I agreed. A blazing case of cellulitis, that antibiotics are making better, but is not yet healed.

The doctor said warm, damp pads would give some relief, so I began wetting cloths and heating them in the microwave, and they did help, except now I made a lot of trips to the kitchen to do that, and was on my feet too much.

I kept trying to figure out how to ease this knee. Was so tired of hurting. A relative was going to shop for things for me, and suddenly I knew what would help. a heating pad, a plain old heating pad. She/they would do my shopping, but because of work schedules, wouldn't come back for a day or two. So, not wanting to be a bother, I resigned myself to more microwave heated pads, and the pain pills.

As I buried myself in really dumb TV shows, to ignore the knee, the phone rang again. The ones who were to shop for me, said they were at a nearby store. They decided since I needed the pad to help with the pain, shouldn't have to wait a day or two for it.

All of this right at Valentines. Pretty flowers, and cards, un-needed candies, unexpected visits, All these symbols of loving and caring. but I just have to tell you how loved I feel, when I wrap this warm electric pad around this aching knee.

  posted at 1:52 AM  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Cel-e-brate! Let us Celebrate!
In this part of Blogland, some real celebrating is going on. You might say it was headquartered in Pennsylvania, at Bev's house; Dipped down to Texas; then stopped a while around Denver, before heading to the western part of Colorado, where the celebration is still going on.

It may also be going on not only in the states, but in other countries. The last time I read the comments posted about this, almost 120 fellow bloggers had left congratulations and encouraging remarks, to my daughter, Barb and her husband, at "A Chelsea Morning".

Our family has never run short for reasons to party. Sometimes it doesn't even matter if it's not done on the exact day, and this one calls for a very big party, even if it's done in cyberspace.

Barb spelled all this out in her recent post called, I believe, "New Hope", where she described buying her first pack of cigarettes, and going to her room to begin a habit that would control her for many years. But that's all changed now. Like remembering our first kiss, or getting our first car, those of us who smoke (or did smoke) can tell you exactly when it began. The reason for it may not be real clear, even to ourselves. Some things we may not need to be very clear about. But I am still surprised sometimes, at the reasons we give.

Barb said perhaps she wanted to feel that she was real cool. She had recently gotten her first wheels, that cute little VW Bug, and drawn her first paycheck. What else did an almost grown up girl need, to help her believe she really had arrived.

Like Barb, my long years of smoking began almost on a whim, except that my reasoning for starting made even less sense than hers did. Acting like a young teenager, although I was older, I just wanted to irritate somebody about it. We all probably do silly things like that, not considering the dangers of it. But we may also come up with other misjudgments. In learning that Barb and Rob are actually quitting smoking, it was said that her sister, Bev did not believe Barb would ever quit, and Barb pointed out that she and Rob each believed the other would never quit. Perhaps we shouldn't decide such important things for someone else, especially those we love the most.

What got my attention about maybe quitting, was that the price of them kept going up. I suppose it doesn't matter what the reasoning is, as long as we do quit, but it is almost scary, thinking of it now, that I, a nurse, knowing all I've learned about nicotine killing, and seeing graphic examples of it in my work, was more concerned about spending about forty dollars a month for cigs, than I was about living. When I began quitting, later I was so glad I did not know that people usually gain weight with it. I would have been more concerned about my waistline, than about being healthy. It amazes me how we can blind ourselves like that.

I do remember getting very defensive about my good old American RIGHT TO SMOKE. I acted like verification of it came with my birth certificate. A few really silly things about smoking did happen. I was working in Boulder. Perhaps you know how conscious they are about health, except with what they choose to inhale. I bought lunch there, and understood smoking was not allowed inside, but when I stepped outside to light up, immediately I saw a well placed sign, saying smoking was not allowed there either. I remember being a little miffed about that, for I didn't want to smoke up my fairly new car. It did not occur to me then, that my attitude smelled worse than my cigarettes did, for it was their land.

Once I was heading home, I mean before that day in Boulder, in an older car, and lit up, as soon as I started it. After a mile or so I thought I smelled some smoke, so looked all around, afraid something was wrong with the car. But it was only that a cig had ignited an overflowing ashtray.

I manage to get home, but the smoke wouldn't stop, so I called our volunteer firemen. I didn't really expect him to show up with one of those big long hoses, but I thought he'd do something about that smoke. All he said was, "Do you think you may have a cup or something in the house you could go bring some water out here in".

The most crucial thinking about smoking that we can hold onto, is what I believe the giant cigarette makers want us to believe, and that is their ongoing media crusade to the world that it is very hard to quit, which at least implies that we may not make it. Think about this: Who do you think stands to gain more if they can convince us of this?

That attitude may apply to some. But I am living proof, a former smoker who loved it, who started thinking maybe I might breathe better, and was really scared when a bad case of pneumonia made me wonder if I'd get through it. But what got my attention most was the cost of cigarettes increasing.

When I reached for that last pack, and knew it would take almost twenty dollars for another carton, I did not want to spend more for them. I was not completely convinced that I could quit. I just knew it was past time I at least tried, and I've always loved seeing if I could be a winner.

I marked the date on each side of that last unopened pack, and tucked it in my nurses' bag. Wanted it handy, in case I changed my mind. My goal each day was to not open the pack, and to Bev's and others' relief, I never did. I've been nicotine free ever since, and that's an important point. Most people say they haven't smoked since a certain time, and it did help, seeing those days increase. But I think it's important to say what you have gained, instead of what you've given up. It is wonderful that Barb and Rob are quitting together, so they know how the other must feel, and can encourage each other, even through grumpy times, maybe especially through the difficult ones. I lived alone, and was doing this solo, and had to get support wherever I could. I must have been awful at work, telling anybody who would listen about quitting, even if they'd already heard it.

Barb got a lot of my silliness in this, for we lived in the same town. Some times I would even tell strangers while in lines at stores. Bev got the easier of it, since she lived far away. She didn't smoke, and her husband had just quit, so they could be supportive. Barb and Rob still smoked, so we mostly never talked about it, except my childlike wonder when I got through another smokeless day. I put Bev's notes about it on my fridge, and since I'm very visual, got a big see through jar, and every day I'd throw two one dollar bills in it, (about what a single pack cost back then). Seeing those dollars adding up became my "Atta Boys".

One former smoker kept a toothpick in his mouth. Someone else I knew, who was big about rocks, kept a little rock in his. I think both those things were not such smart things to do, but we do silly things sometimes, and what could be sillier than starting smoking.

My biggest problem was figuring out what to do with my hands. Instead of having one hand empty, where before one held the coffee cup, and the other that first smoke of the day I grabbed that coffee cup with both my hands, like I'd never let go. Wrapped both hands around it, and smiled, as the non smoking days added up, and I began believing maybe I might make it.

Popcorn and green apple suckers kept my mouth busy. To this day, I avoid both of those, but they served their purpose, and when I hear or see more of those Killer Cigarette Giants trying to persuade people it is too hard to quit, I silently smile.

But they are talking to huge numbers of others still strugling with quitting, and that's where you and I come in. Nothing, except perhaps our lack of interest, or caring can keep us from praying for them. Of all the comments I've heard from Barb and Rob's quitting, what stays with me most is Barb repeating that they can FEEL the love and caring, and the prayers so many are offering for them.

Sometimes for the fun of it, I check todays' prices of my old brand. They're a little more than $5 a pack now, and $45.00 to $50 a carton. One year while wrapping presents, I wrapped that old full pack I never opened, and sent it with Christmas gifts to Bev, and she did what any good Christian woman would. Put it in her prayer reminder basket. She wasn't taking any chances that I might start up smoking again.

Barb said something very similiar to my thinking the other day, about her smoking being done. When I picked up that last unopened pack, and wrote the date on it, that was the shining moment I quit, and Barb's must have been when she gathered everything about smoking in her house, and ditched it. I call those exclamation road marks.

I try to remember how much I didn't want anyone lecturing me about smoking. If someone brings it up, I try to not be smug, and say that quitting is so personal, and you will know when you are ready, and leave it at that, for it really is true that it's only a decision.

Today, when asked "smoking or non-smoking", although that doesn't happen much since braver laws are being made. I don't even need to think about it, but the first time I was asked, it felt kind of strange, even though I hadn't smoked for months. I realized it was because I hadn't taught myself that yet. I didn't see myself as a non smoker.

A while back, when I went to the hospital, an outstanding one that's rated as being one of the country's one hundred best of them, I noticed a huge new banner there proclaiming that the hospital is now totally non-smoking. This is the year of 2009. It blows my thinking that it's taken this long to declare that.

Barb and Rob are in for some pleasant surprises, enjoying things they haven't in years. My first of them was one night coming home from work, as I drove past miles of springtime fields, I smelled freshly turned rows of dirt. If it hadn't been so late, and dark at night, I would have pulled over and stayed a while. Memories like that now take the place of when I lit my first cigarette, and my last. That was then, and this is now. A time to celebrate, to celebrate Life.

  posted at 9:14 PM  

Thursday, February 05, 2009
A Healing Time
To you who may be reading this, please stop a minute. Smile, and understand that reports on my condition are about to end, except I must share one sweet thought: In about ten days I can drive again!

I'm not going to bore you with medical details. Whatever needs to heal is going well. As a matter of fact, I am so impressed with my older physicion, if we were not so old, I could go for him. But I would be terribly surprised if some fine lady hasn't already done that.

Today as I was frustrated with trying to heat soothing warm packs in the microwave, and keep them warm a while, it occurred to me that millions of people, all over the world, might think life was just fine, if that were the only problem they had.

When I began writing this, I considered calling it: "Letting us eat cake", that famous comment an uncaring queen spouted long ago, when she was informed the people had no food. But in keeping with at least trying to hang on to being positive, I decided on "A Healing Time", for I believe our country needs more surgery than I did.

Our politions are suppose to know what their jobs are, what they need to do. But it wouldn't hurt to tell them how we stand on lots of things about this disaster our country, and other parts of the world are reeling from. I say "we", for in this we don't stand alone. Years ago older relatives had sayings to explain almost everything. One that I've carried around for years is: "Are you helping out or are you part of the problem?"

Even small things, like sharing rides to grocery stores, can cut gas bills. If you go to church, there are probably tasks there, those who do them would appreciate some help with. Think about your own skills. Do you know how to do house upkeep and repairs? Maybe you once worked in beauty shops, whatever your skills are, and what if you traded doing some of these, instead of spending money for them.

Helping older people you live near, might be more appreciated than you would think. I read in the news in our town, that a group formed, without need for extensive paperwork or required meetings. Their sole purpose is to shovel snow for neighbors who need some help with it, or use a snow blower.

Those are just a few ideas on how we can help our fellow man (or woman), and in the process, perhaps revive again caring as much for them, as we do ourselves.

In this process of getting my knee to heal, we have excellent medical staff, especially that doctor I mentioned, and a hospital that's considered one of the best one hundred of them in America. I appreciate everyone who took great care of me there. But that's not the only kind of "medicine" we need.

People and situations that grabbed my heart were family who showed in lots of ways, how important I am to them, and that I get well. Some were big surprises, like the daughter inlaw, who works full time, and cares for her own Mom, but knocked on my door with inexpensive, but real flowers, that are still very nice. She also brought along a great grandson, who promptly stole the show from all of them, without saying a word.

Maybe it's a little selfish, my looking that little guy over, for signs of blood lines. A far away grand daughter sent a pretty card with a note so fresh and original, she might consider writing them for places like Hallmark. Her return address included a tiny picture of another great grandson.

Another daughter does that, sends it on cards and things. Every time you visit her blog, you will see the picture of Barb, at "A Chelsea Morning", holding her grandson. It was made at another granddaughter's wedding. This generation thing is moving too quickly.

It may be a quiet email, but it's one I know the writer had to be just about completely worn out, but took the time anyway, to make my otherwise hurting day smile at me. It's kind of nice when you have several children, and you use words like hospital and surgery. They soon start surfacing! and with surprises!

One sent thoughtful things, and while in Washington D.C. found another about the election. It is now tucked away for a keepsake, Maybe one of my great grandchildren may get old enough to appreciate that I left things like that to be passed on in this great bunch of people we call Family.

Right up there with caring for them, if we don't yet have it, we need to develop love and respect for our country, Old Glory belongs to each of us. She has weathered many kinds of storms, but still stands tall among the world, and is not lessened when we help those in more need than we. God Bless America! Take a deep breath, and see what we can do, to get her through this one.

  posted at 10:21 PM  

About Me
Name: Judith

Location: Colorado

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