If you can’t stop my pain, you may as well just shoot me!

pills_variety_crop380wI try to be a pragmatic user of medications. I think we have them for a reason and the reason was all mine when I found myself in rehabilitation and unable to perform the most mundane tasks because of intense pain. Having said that, let me add that I thought I possessed a healthy but wary attitude toward all drugs, especially narcotics. I realize now that my perception of pain-killing opioids was informed by my family of origin which was rife with alcoholism and other drug addictions. My father died of complications from his years of drinking excessively. My brother died of an alcohol and drug overdose. Obviously my viewpoint was skewed.

Over the years of my adulthood I have learned to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and I once took a Vicodin at the emergency room when I had what we believe was a gall bladder event. Triage sent me home with four tablets and told me perhaps I should take only a half since the whole tablet knocked me silly. I ended up throwing out 3 1/2 of them. That experience didn’t do a thing to quell my fear of drugs. In fact, quite the opposite.  Imagine going from that kind of trepidation about taking pain killers to begging for them back in October after my accident. That’s some serious pain.

I don’t remember exactly how long I lay in that hospital bed without any real help for my pain. I know that the therapists came to my room twice a day and laboriously tried to get me to a sitting position but the pain was agonizing and I couldn’t do it. I told them I needed to see a doctor so they sent one to see me. She said she understood I wanted/needed something for pain. I explained that I had to have something if I were going to be able to get up and get well. She left an order. I don’t know what it was but it helped about as much as an aspirin. Even one of my caregivers told me that was not what I needed; that it was not going to help my kind of pain. More time wasted while my muscles continued to atrophy.

Then I got a stroke of good luck. A staff member stopped by one day and asked me how I was doing. I told her I wasn’t making progress because of the pain. She informed me that there was a doctor on staff (I think fairly new there.) who knew all about pain management. She said, “You need to see him. He’s very good.”

I tried not to get my hopes too high but I asked my daytime nurse (CNA) to ask him to see me the next day. In fact I pleaded, “Don’t let him leave tomorrow until he’s seen me.” She promised she wouldn’t. (I have this mental image of her with a lasso around him, dragging him back down the hall. 🙂 )

I don’t think she had to rope him but by golly he showed up and my rehabilitation took a one-eighty turn and I was on my way back. My relief was palpable.

I’ve thought a great deal about what Dr. H (H is for hero.) does that makes him an effective and outstanding doctor. I’ve recently been back at the facility for additional therapy and I saw him in the gym talking to a patient. She was in a wheelchair. He got down in a squat to look her in the face and talk to her. That’s when it all came flooding back to me. That’s what he does. And much more.

He came into my room, introduced himself, looked me in the eyes and we talked. He listened. What I said mattered. He showed no sign of being in a hurry. I was the only patient he had in that moment. This wasn’t one of those 3-5 minute visits. We talked until we said what we needed to communicate to each other. I understood him. He understood me. He made me a partner in my care. That matters a great deal to me. I monitored my medication about as carefully as he did. And guess what? I’m not addicted. That had been a big concern for me.

Dr. H is very young for one so perfectly attuned to his patients needs and concerns. I believe that medical personnel can be taught a great deal about compassion and patient care. But I don’t believe this doctor had to be taught that aspect of caring. He cares about people. He has a good heart. And it shines as he goes about his work. He’s very good indeed, and I’m enormously grateful.

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Stop! and smell the flowers.

I feel fortunate to be able to walk around my neighborhood.photo-38 Five months ago I wasn’t sure I would stand again, let alone walk. I’ve put my Fitbit back on and am able to walk about 7,000 steps a day. Of course my goal is much higher but for now I feel almost like a walking miracle. We were fortunate this year to actually have spring weather on the first day of spring. As I walked I couldn’t resist snapping lots of lovely flowers.

This is a happy post. I almost have a spring in my step and Mother Nature definitely has one in hers.photo-35

There are lots of pansies that survived the winter and they start to seriously thrive in March. Later, the hot weather will take its toll. This is a basket on my front porch. My daughter gave it to me. She must have known this is my favorite pansy color.

One of the first signs of spring is the blooming of the Bradford pear tree. I have mixed feelings about this tree.photo-25photo-70 There’s no denying its lush loveliness after a long winter. Our neighborhood is rife with these flowering wonders which means the distasteful (to me) smell is everywhere and if I stay outside too long I’ll get a headache.

I noticed as I strolled that there were a number of dandelions in the lawns that are left to their own devices. Like mine.photo-73 The seriously manicured lawns won’t allow weeds to grow. Their green four-inch grass is so thick that neither the owners nor the grass would ever allow such a pariah to set up shop in their yards. Personally, I like the “dandies” in all their stages. I still love to blow the seeds so they will land where they may and grow more yellow beauties.photo-80

My yard isn’t really a lawn. It’s a random collection of grasses and weeds that give it a wonderful green patchwork effect. I have planted a spring green (chartreuse?) ground cover under my pear tree and as you can see here, it’s starting to creep into the grass to make its own statement. I realize that my neighbors probably don’t like my kind of lawn but I feel the same way about their “perfect” chemically treated ones.

I saw violets on my walk. Some people consider this plant a weed. photo-68I don’t. Nor do the owners of this little clump. See how carefully they placed the mulch around it? The violet was Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite flower. She had lovely violet wallpaper on the walls of her room at Campobello. I had the privilege of visiting there some years ago.

I think my favorite photo for the day is this whimsical winged pig flying through the pansy bed. I often use the expression, “When pigs fly!” photo-41It says so much with only three little words. If someone is so naïve as to ask me if I would ever marry again that is my answer. Would I consider going back in to the classroom and teaching? When pigs fly!  Would I ever buy another two-story house? When… You get the picture.

More photos from my yard. A white camellia. Yellow daffodils. A red camellia. photo-77photo-75 photo-76

Small (and large) comforts see me through.

I had my second corneal transplant yesterday. My left eye seems to be progressing at about the same rate as the right one did back in February.photo(2) I’m not one to quote the Bible but I can’t help thinking about the verses in 1st Corinthians 13 about first seeing dimly and then seeing clearly. I could hardly see through the haze at all yesterday. Today I’m seeing better, though still through a veil. In a few days, if I progress as I hope to, I will see clearly.

This is nothing short of miraculous. I find myself feeling tremendously grateful to the donors who cared enough about others to make their organs available in the event of their demise. It’s a generous and forward-thinking and liberal act.

And it’s impossible to appreciate the donors without thinking and wondering about the families and friends they have left behind. I don’t need to meet them but I wish I were able to send a thank-you note for this remarkable gift that is my much-improved sight. I thank you most kindly.

Also, to my family and friends who so graciously give your time and love and transportation in order to make my way easier, I give you my thanks and my love.

And I mustn’t forget Lulu aka Baby who snuggles with me and comforts me when there’s no one else here to do it.photo(18)

Another letter to my ex-husband.

Sometimes an idea for a post pops into my head. If the notion pays the rent and takes up residence, I feel compelled to write it out.photo-43

I have noticed for months that there is one post I wrote early in my blogging days which continues to get attention. It’s called “A letter to my ex-husband.” and it consistently receives 50-60 clicks a week. I think this is telling me that there are new “victims” every day who seek comfort and company on the internet. Hopefully, they are seeking to lose that feeling of being the victim. What I know is that most are in a great deal of emotional distress.

Then I start to wonder, “Should I revisit that post? Should I write an update?” I seldom return to old posts. It’s rather like a sixteen-year-old backtracking to read what she wrote in her diary as a twelve-year-old — naïve and poorly written.

Dear D,

I have just read and re-read the open letter I wrote to you back in November, 2010. I stand by what I wrote. If I were composing the same letter today I might not use the Pearl Harbor metaphor but I’m not sorry I used it then. That’s how I felt at the time. I hope my writing is somewhat improved since those days.

I’m happy to say that I no longer dwell on the difficulties of that period in our history. My life moves along with more happy times than not as I try to focus on those most important in my life — my family. I must admit, though, that I still miss your family. At the time, I felt as if I had suffered multiple amputations but those wounds have mostly healed.

I have come to realize the we have a history — you, your family and I. And I know now that it’s mine to keep. No one, no divorce, no would-be interloper can ever take that away from me. I’m free to remember the happy times, and sad, as I choose. I even have a couple of pictures of you on display in my house. There’s one of you and two cute little granddaughters, all of you wearing identical Harley Davidson t-shirts. There’s the one of you and me and H when she was baptized  in your grandmother’s christening gown. When someone who doesn’t know you sees the latter and asks me if that’s my ex, I always say, “Yes, it is. Wasn’t he a handsome fellow.”

As I was reading the old letter and starting to write this post, I remembered the disconcerting dizziness of feeling as if I were on a merry-go-round back when I first heard the infamous divorce announcement. My mind would get in a loop and I had a hard time escaping the negative and unhelpful self-conversations. I even dreamed about carousels and their eerie, hypnotic music. I would feel it slowing and think it was slow enough to step off. But, alas, I would stumble and fall in a teary puddle every time.

My son-in-law recently told me about going to a colleague’s office to discuss a work-related matter. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, she looked at him and stated, “My husband is having an affair.” He asked me why she had said that to him. They weren’t buddies or anything so why would she do that? My immediate response was, “That’s all she could think about.” In other words, she was on the merry-go-round. It takes a while to get off. I had to ask the same “What did I do wrong?” question over and over before I finally let it go as unanswerable.

You’d think one carnival ride would be metaphor enough for one in the throes of despair. Not for me. I went straight from the carousel to a giant roller coaster. And sometimes the two merged into a monstrous nightmare.photo-73 This new ride came along when I stopped asking hypothetical questions and started to figure out what I must do to take care of me. I allowed my anger at you and at my situation to spring into action.

Anger can be a wonderful resource and motivator. It enabled me to start taking care of important divorce-related issues. Things like feeding myself properly, getting enough sleep and starting to raise my consciousness about financial matters and finding the right attorney to help me with my decision-making.

During this period the roller coaster started going up fairly often and I would feel pretty good. Fear would strike and I would crash back down. In between there were loop-de-loops when I was upside down and inside out and didn’t know what I was doing. One wise person named John told me, “Some things just take time.” He was right. As I found my sense of humor again and enabled my positive attitude, I came through and am better for it. I truly hope you are too.

Life is good as I remember our happy times together.

Fondly, Pat

 

 

A bump in the road.

Finding myself in the middle of a 20-degrees-cooler-than-average day in Charlotte in June is like coming upon an oasis in the desert and realizing it’s not a mirage.photo-32 I’m enjoying a slow, steady rain and plenty of time to read or play or eat frozen yogurt or almost anything I  choose on a pleasant day like this.

This is the kind of day when I would enjoy a walk in the rain. Notice I said  that I can do almost anything I want. Unfortunately, my outdoor activity is somewhat restricted by my fairly new ortho boot. I wouldn’t want to get it wet. (Imagine a wry smile here.)

Early last week–in the middle of the night–I fell and re-injured my already compromised and seriously bum ankle. Have you ever walked to the foot of the stairs, thought you had reached the bottom, and then realized, “Uh-oh, I wasn’t at the bottom yet.” I don’t recommend it. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve done it more than once. This time was the worst. though.

As it turns out, I sprained my ankle and apparently gave a bit of a twist to the knee. I also fractured a navicular bone in my upper foot.photo-33 It’s a small bone and not too serious. My knee came through it with no damage. The boot is for the ankle and it holds aforementioned bone in the proper place while it heals.

I’ve learned that I can do most indoor chores and activities if I wear the boot. I’m allowed to sleep without it.

So here I sit–healing–in mind, body, and spirit. And that’s why I’m so happy about the weather, even more glad than usual. I can sit on my front porch and read while I listen to the rain. I can elevate my foot on the railing and think positive, feel-good thoughts for myself and for “all God’s creatures.” Hope the snakes stay away.

As my doctor said, “This is just a bump in the road.”

 

One step at a time.

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Yesterday I drove to Daughter # 1’s house to pick up my granddaughter.  We had a dinner date.  I got there a little early so I got out of the car and walked around the yard snapping photos while I waited for her to get home.  My daughter and her family have a most marvelous yard–a Garden of Eden, if you will.  Except there’s no apple tree as far as I know.  Of course that apple notion we’ve been fed all these years is probably wrong.  I read somewhere that it would more likely have been a pomegranate in that part of the world.  I tell you all this in order to say that the photos in this post were all taken in the aforementioned beautiful yard.  There are all manner of little treasures peeking through the leaves.


As I drove to get my granddaughter A, I passed a man walking up the sidewalk.  He walked at a snail’s pace because he required a walker with wheels.  Needless to say the going was slow.  I remember thinking how much I admired his grit–the busy street must have been a bit daunting.  As I was retracing my route and heading toward our favorite restaurant, I saw the same man still walking.  I said to A, “Holy cow!  Look at that guy!  He’s walked a couple of miles or more since I last saw him.”  Then we talked about what might have incapacitated him– a stroke, a heart attack ???–and how brave he was to keep going, determined to get strong again.

I have thought about that gentleman a great deal in the past twenty-four hours.  He reminds me of the many wounded people (including me) who are trying, one step at a time, to heal.  Some wounds are physical, some are emotional.  All are serious to the one who is suffering.  Some heal quickly, some not so much; all of us heal a step at a time, a day at a time.

Sometimes my little cell phone camera seems to have a mind of its own.  I inadvertently took this picture of my foot stepping firmly toward the next colorful exhibit that caught my eye.  I started to delete it and thought better of it.  I shall keep it to remind me to keep on stepping.  It also reminds me of how far I’ve come since D-Day.  (I read a  number of blogs by people, male and female, who are recovering from separation, divorce, infidelity, etc., and many of them refer to it as D-Day.  It’s appropriate, I guess.)  We’re all recovering at different rates, but the good news is that we’re all recovering.  Each day gets a little better.