Steroids…Weight Gain…Weight Watchers…


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Dearest Readers:

Have you ever gotten so ill that your doctor prescribed steroids? Years ago, my doctor prescribed Prednisone to me. After taking it, I noticed my cognitive abilities were affected. I could not sleep. During the day, I was wired, and while driving, I drove off the road! Fortunately, no one was nearby!

I shared these side effects with my doctor, telling him I would refuse any prescriptions for Prednisone. What I should’ve told him was I will not take steroids! After my steroid consumption in June, I will let him know the side effects and I will not take ANY STEROIDS again! I mentioned to him how I struggled to communicate a simple sentence while taking Prednisone! Since I am a writer, my cognitive abilities must be sharp! For the life of me now, I cannot recall what the name of the drug was, although I do remember it started with a D. I took this drug faithfully, anticipating I would be better within a few days. I finished the medication and was still so weak, so ill, and coughing so hard, so I phoned my doctor. He refilled the same prescription.

Two weeks later, I was still sick, but getting better. My breathing meter said I was stronger, in the green area of the meter, and I was feeling better, with one exception.

I wanted to eat anything and everything within my home. I actually felt as if I would eat the kitchen cabinets IF they were flavored and edible. During one day, I went to the pantry, finding Ritz crackers. I took a sleeve of the crackers out, eating them in one sitting. Eating like this is NOT something I do. I joined Weight Watchers years ago. Before getting so sick, I had two pounds to lose to hit my first goal. Not the official goal at Weight Watchers to become lifetime, but my official first goal since it would be the number I weighed when I graduated from high school.

What is wrong with me? I am so hungry and I cannot stop this ridiculous eating! 

I phoned my husband. “Ice Cream. Ice Cream. I want ice cream.”

That evening, he brought ice cream home. I was eating everything I should not eat, and I was not tracking anything.

I glanced at my calendar, recognizing I had missed three Weight Watchers meetings. When I returned, I gained almost five pounds. At first, I blamed the gain on the steroids. Believe me when I say they have a serious side effect. Constant hunger and weight gain!

I was furious with myself. I cannot blame the steroid for making me gain weight, after all, I am the one who controls what goes into my mouth. Meanwhile, I’m still eating. Finally I realized I had to get control.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/ART-20045692?pg=2, oral steroids, commonly referred to as Corticosteroids, some of the side effects are:

  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with mood, memory, behavior and other psychological effects
  • Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, face and the back of your neck

My eyes were affected with blurred vision. I did not notice fluid retention in my legs, but I certainly gained weight and I was furious with myself. My blood pressure increased, along with my blood sugars. On several mornings, my blood sugar was over 200.

I was definitely moody. Snapping at my husband over the least little thing, and when the phone rang when I recognized it was another telemarketer telling me I had won another cruise…Would I like to attend a seminar about hearing issues, time shares, how to invest retirement funds, blah…blah…blah. Well, let’s just say I used a bit of colorful language telling them to stop calling this number! I started blocking almost every phone number, including two of my best friends. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to correct these errors. It certainly is quieter in my home now, without the constantly ringing telephone. Maybe we should cancel our landline!

Yep. You guessed it. Steroids were making me a B-I-T-C-H! Funny, the phone isn’t ringing much now! Thank goodness!

August 7 was exactly seven weeks since I took the last of the steroid prescription. When I see my doctor in October, I will tell him I cannot take steroids OF ANY KIND now. For me, it isn’t worth the risk. I find it interesting that medical professionals will tell us when we need to lose weight; nevertheless, when we become ill with an acute illness such as acute bronchial asthma, the professionals will prescribe steroids. The side effect of steroids is weight gain, only I’ve never had this side effect until June when I was so weak and ill.

How I pray I will remain well for a bit. I find it a bit funny that I was scheduled for ‘clinical testing’ to see if my asthma would respond to new medications. When I went for the clinical testing, my breathing was ‘too healthy’ to be considered for the clinical testing.

Suppose I’ll be happy now that I am able to breathe so much better and I can walk and exercise again! Thank you, God!

What did I learn after taking steroids? Simple. I learned that my body cannot accept them or allow them to be taken orally. For me, the side effect of weight gain and being such an arrogant maniac just isn’t worth the risk. I like myself when I am the real me…Not the B-I-T-C-H I become, thanks to steroids. Once, while in California, I saw a bumper sticker on a car. I loved it, wrote it down and practice it. It revealed:

I’m a Bitch.

B = Beautiful

I = Intelligent

T = Talented

C = Charming

H = Honest — in all honesty – the H = horny, but I changed that! There’s no need to advertise when hormones kick in!

Yeah. I suppose I could say I’m a Bitch…but a Nice One!

 

 

 

We Are Family…


Dearest Readers:
I suppose one could say this week has been an eventful week. A week of highs. Lows. Events. Thankfulness and most of all, Gratitude.
Early Tuesday, I left Charleston, driving to Georgia to visit with my sister and her family. My sister’s name shall remain anonymous. I believe in protecting privacy. We had a nice visit and dinner, planning the next day at the hospital. My sister was scheduled for a heart Cather. Her blood pressure has been rising, and she has been a bit tired. I suppose she should be tired since she is still working and on her feet a lot, and she chases after a darling little two-year-old great grand.
Early Wednesday morning, her family picks me up and off we drive thru the heart of Atlanta, GA traffic. I’m accustomed to traffic jams since we have so many as a daily routine now in Charleston. Arriving at the hospital, my sister checked in. We were told to remain in the waiting area. “Someone will come to get you later.”
My sister’s procedure was scheduled for 2:00 pm. It was about 10:00 am now. Because I am a coffee connoisseur, I smelled the freshly brewed coffee. I ask the attendant at the front desk where I could get some of that delicious aroma. He guided me to where it was. The coffee machine wasn’t a Keurig, although it worked on the same premise. I do not own a Keurig but a grind and brew machine, so I had ‘no clue’ how to operate it. Back to the attendant, I go. Yes, it was a blonde moment!
“Excuse me,” I say, using my flirty personality. “Just how does one operate this machine to get a cup of coffee?”
He smiled. A nice, young guy, dressed in pale blue, denim scrubs. He showed me how to operate the machine and within a few minutes, I had a hot cup of coffee! Most of you who read my blog will know, I’m not worth anything, nor can I function until I’ve had coffee in the morning! With my sister away getting prepped for her procedure, I enjoyed the coffee, not wanting to drink any coffee around her. That would be selfish and I am not considered to be a selfish person.
Tick Tock. The clock continued passing the time away as we sat. And SAT. AND SAT! Finally, we were called back to see my sister. She rested in a bed. IV solution hooked up, along with all the machinery. Ready and waiting for the infamous 2:00 hour. She appeared to be in good spirits. Tick. Tock.
I suppose I should report here I was lacking major sleep. Although it was Wednesday, my average sleep for this week was about four to five hours nightly. So exhausted I wanted to scream or cry, just like I do when I am fighting to sleep during stressful weeks, I kept reminding myself I was not stressful. I had prayed, and prayed, for God to keep my sister safe and for her not to require open heart surgery. How I remember open heart surgery since my husband had a quadruple bypass in 1998. I remember touching his skin after his surgery. His skin was clammy and freezing to the touch. He was connected to a ventilator and other machinery. He did not respond to my voice or my touch. The nurse caring for him was named Kevin. “He is highly sedated, so he cannot respond to you, but he is all right.” Easy for him to say since he was the attending nurse, and I, the wife of the recovering patient, had never seen my husband in this condition. Feeling a bit faint, I inhaled. Exhaled. And walked out, rushing quickly to the waiting area, spending late hours at the waiting area. Waiting. No doubt this would be a late night.
About midnight, I sent word to Kevin that I was going home. I left my cell and landline phone numbers with him, in the event he needed to contact me.
Now, here I sit with my niece, awaiting the hour to start my sister’s procedure. At 2:03 pm, she was wheeled back to the operating room. We met with the doctor prior to the procedure. He mentioned he would do a heart Cather, looking for the leaks and or blockages. If a blockage was found, he would do a stint. He had a soft, kind patient and family mannerism and I liked him. He took the time to answer our questions, reassuring us she would be fine.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we were becoming a bit tired from sitting and not knowing anything. I approached the kind attendant at the desk. He reassured me he would check to get a status report. A few minutes later, we were called back. My sister’s procedure was complete and the doctor would see us in a few minutes. My sister was removed from recovery. We stood next to her bed. Her color was great. No paleness and no ‘deathly white’ like my husband was after his heart surgery.
According to the doctor (sorry, I cannot remember his name), my sister had “about an 80% blockage, so he performed a stint. She has a few small blockages that I believe we can care for with medications and getting her cholesterol lower. She will spend the night here and should go home tomorrow.”
I breathed a sigh of relief! My sister was going to be AOK! Thank you, God!
After spending most of the day at the hospital, my niece and I were exhausted. I was hoping I would sleep that night. I suppose although I felt I was not ‘that worried’ – Obviously, I was and that is why I failed to relax and sleep.
Now, home in Charleston again, I am happy to report last night I got at least eight hours of sleep. I awoke after 8:30 am. Normally, I am awake and moving around by 7:30. Yes, I needed rest. After a week of speaking to God like He was my closest friend, I am thankful my sister phoned me to let me know about her procedure. And I am thankful I was able to make the plans necessary to get to her and her family prior to the procedure, and I am grateful for a caring, loving sister who considers me a part of her family.
“What?” You might be asking. “Of course you are family.”
Only those with a close family would ask such a question.
My sister and I have worked for years to repair the damage of our childhoods, and now, we are family.
As the song says:
“We are Family. I’ve got my sisters with me.”
For me, I will say:
“We are Family. I’ve got one sister with me…”
Yes, I am thankful for the one sister I am blessed to bond with and to share life with. Most of all, I am thankful she came through her heart Cather without any problems.
No doubt, God was holding her hand during the procedure.
Thank you, God, for all you do for those who believe!
Yes. We are Family…!

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Thinking of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Yes. I know, I’ve been a bit negligent with writing in my blog. If you recall, on March 7, 2017, I lost one of the loves of my life. My little Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. My life appeared to stop after losing him. I cried. Oh…How I cried. The tears were an endless, rushing ocean of tears I referred to as a tsunami.

My friends didn’t understand. Heck. I wasn’t certain I understood. I kept telling myself that I had to move on. After all, after the death of a loved one, life continues. The sun still shines. The rains pour. Bills are due. Life continues. But how? How could I learn to live without little Shake n Bake?

I do not have an answer to that question. I still called his name. I looked for him outside, resting on the corner of our lot, where he always rested to get his sunshine. He loved sunshine. I clapped my hands three times, so he would hear me and realize he needed to come inside, only he wasn’t there. I prayed for God to guide me and to ease my grief. I needed a sign and one morning, a fly flew into my coffee cup. Shakespeare knew me well enough to realize I wasn’t a bit of good to anyone without my second cup of coffee. On that morning, I picked up the coffee cup, ready to sip the second cup, only to find a fly floating in the cup of hot, fresh coffee.

I laughed! “Shakespeare,” I screamed! “You sent me a sign. Thank you. Thank you.” Tears rushed down my face again. Another torrential endless waterfall of fresh tears I could not stop.

I must explain. The water bowls for my dogs are strategically placed in the kitchen, bedroom and where I write. If Shakespeare was thirsty and something was in the water bowl, he refused to drink. He would place his paw in the bowl, attempting to remove a dead fly, or a bit of dirt. If that didn’t work, he would kick the bowl over, to let me know he wanted CLEAN water, not a dirty bowl!

So Shakespeare!

In four days, Shakespeare will be tucked safely inside my heart for three months. Yes. The tears are flowing again, and even though I am blessed with other dogs, I cannot stop these tears at times.

This week I’ve been super busy caring for my husband. He awoke on Wednesday with chills and fever. Knowing enough about medicine and health to understand that when one has chills there is normally an infection inside the body. I mentioned this to my husband. Of course, he grumbled, called in to work and stayed in bed. I decided it was best to ignore him. After all, I had planted the seed that he probably had an infection, or maybe…  he had pneumonia.

About 15 minutes later, he walked into where I was sitting at the computer. “I think I should go to ER.”

“That’s probably a good idea.”

Shutting my computer down, I changed clothes. Off we go to the infamous Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital, ER. No doubt, this day will not be productive for a writer.

We arrived at ER about 8:30, maybe a bit later. Checked in to ER and waited. Moments later, someone calls his name and we enter ER. Those of you who know what it is like to go to a VA hospital will understand just how long it takes to see doctors. That didn’t happen for us. The doctors arrived, checked him over, ordered tests, chest x-rays, blood work, etc…Etc! At lunch time (1 o’clock or so) Phil mentions he is hungry. The nurse (a wonderful, caring male nurse) mentioned he would order him some lunch. Phil suggests that I go to the cafeteria and get some lunch since I haven’t eaten either.

“Oh, no.” I said. “I remember how disastrous their salads were the last time we were here. I’ll be OK.”

When the lunch arrives, it is much to my surprise, lunch for two. I seem to recall that when Phil and I were chatting earlier about my going to the cafeteria, I mentioned they would bring him lunch, but the wives, or caregivers who were with the veteran were treated as second-class citizens. “They do not consider how we might feel or we might be hungry and hesitant to leave the area since our veteran is sick.”

Oops. Looks like my voice must’ve been heard I say quietly as I open the box to a hamburger steak, lightly covered with gravy. Well done, limpy vegetables and cold egg noodles, but what the heck. I’m hungry! Believe me, I’ll not complain. It was a most considerate thought for the nurse to order two lunches!

About 2pm, the doctor returns. The diagnosis, “a bit of pneumonia.” When he shares the diagnosis, I think to myself  — Is that like a little bit pregnant?  I remain quiet. Listening…

Today, Phil is resting still. Earlier, when I checked on him, he was coughing. How I pray this ‘bit of pnuemonia’ leaves him soon, and I pray I do not get it. I’ve had pneumonia three times as an adult and when I get it, I am sick for weeks.

And, so today, while at the computer, I attempt to write again. Something I haven’t done much lately. At times, I don’t feel like a writer anymore. I suppose I’ve allowed myself to be lazy about writing. I must change that behavior and get myself back to the busy-ness of writing.

For now, I must go make my infamous homemade waffles for Phil and I to share for breakfast, or maybe an early brunch.

I’ve made a promise to myself this week. A promise to write more on my blog and a promise to get the story of “Chattahoochee Child,” completed.

I simply must WRITE again! Maybe in memory of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway who always rested curled at my feet when I wrote. I still find my left foot moving ever so slowly next to his curled little warm body so I can rub him while writing. Only now…that precious little boy isn’t there. Will this grief ever leave? What can I do to make it leave me? I don’t have any answers, but my heart is so full of his love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year, 2017


Dearest Readers:

Today is December 31, 2016. The last day of 2016. I would like to say Good Riddance to 2016. A year of much controversy in the USA, a dreadful year for politics, and a great year for a ‘shocking Presidential election.’ It appeared everyone was ‘shocked’ when Donald J. Trump was elected the new President. Hillary Clinton was devastated. Oh. Pooh!

Hillary Clinton lost. End of discussion! I admit, I was ready to vote for Hillary, or should I say “Billary” in 2008, until Obama was selected, and I did not vote for him. America has tolerated eight years of a close ‘dictatorship.’ Let us sweep the Obama’s out of the office and allow them to fade into the distance. After Hillary did so many illegal actions to jeopardize the USA via her e-mails…the lies she shouted and continued to feed about her actions as Secretary of State…etc…etc…ETC… I was almost ashamed that she was a woman in a powerful office. To say the least, she was an embarrassment.

But…today is the last day of 2016. Enough about politics! For this household, 2016 was a year of too much stress. After Phil had his surgery on his shoulder and recovered ever so slowly, I worried. My daily life consumed me. I went to my doctor for a check-up, only to be told my blood pressure was much too high. My doctor wanted to know exactly what I was doing to have such high blood pressure. After telling him how stressed I was, he told me IF I did not get my blood pressure under control, I could have a heart attack or a stroke.

I decided it was time to take back my life. Yes, I eat healthy, and I’m losing weight. I do Weight Watchers. Researching how to lower my blood pressure, and taking a daily medication for my blood pressure, I starting exercising again, eating healthier by including more fish, and I meditated. Three months later, my blood pressure is lower. Thank you, God.

Now, on New Years Eve, I am reflecting on 2016 and how I can tolerate the stress of 2017. Let’s just say, I am having numerous talks with God, just like Dolly Parton shared in her movie, “Circle of Love,” and “Coat of Many Colors.” Yes, I go to a window, looking up to the sky and I ask God to listen to me again – probably for the millionth time! My wonderful grandmother taught me how to pray, and I must say, praying soothes away the stress. At least for a time. This week, when my blood pressure rose again, I had another talk with God. This time, I prayed He would help me to be calmer, and not to scream when I feel life is about to knock me down again.

Last night while at karaoke, I certainly had my stress level tested and I’m happy to report, I passed with flying colors. Thank you, God.

Allow me to share the scenario. Our friends and I were sitting at our regular table before karaoke started. I was looking at the ‘only karaoke book’ to find a few new songs to sing. A few minutes later, I closed the book. An obnoxious female, a rather large woman who wears extremely short dresses, fish net stockings and heels, approached the table.

“Oh. It’s you who has the f—— book,” she said, slurring her words. The only word she could express well was the “f” bomb.

“Would you please not say that word?”

“What? F——? It’s in the f—— dictionary.”

“Only you would know that,” I smiled. “Please just take the book and leave!”

She sat down at the table, continuing to fire out the ‘f’ bomb.

“Please…just take the book and leave,” I said, motioning with my hands for her to leave our table.

She rose from the table, song book in her hand. Of course, when she left she continued saying the only word she knows in her vocabulary. Some women simply should not be considered a woman!

She struggled to walk back to her friends. A few minutes later, sitting at the bar, she knocked over several drinks. Before her friends left the bar, they gave our table four shots — one for each of us. I declined the shot since I never drink shots, and I do not accept drinks from people I do not know. By now, some people are leaving the bar, including her ‘friends.’ A couple who enjoyed hearing me sing left too, stating something about ‘too many drunks in here!’ Without a doubt, this was not a good night for some of us enjoying the evening.

The obese woman sang only one song, complete with a dialogue of ‘f’ bombs, instead of the real lyrics. I’m certain she was hoping I would approach her again about her vulgarity. I chose to kill her with kindness, by ignoring her. The disc jockey made a comment about the language, requesting singers NOT to use profanity. Ha. Ha. Sometimes it pays to be a ‘steel magnolia!’

Later, the bartenders helped her outside. I believe they called her a cab. It’s a good thing she didn’t drive. There was a safety check on the highway, stopping every car, checking to make certain people were not intoxicated. When they checked us, I was driving. I had only one drink the entire night, about two hours earlier, so I was certain I would not be asked to ‘get out of the car.’ The rest of my drinks consisted of several refills of arthur-ravenel-jr-bridgewater. The nice police officer checked my ID, license and registration and allowed us to go home. Just think — IF the rather obese woman with the short…much too short dress was driving, she would spend the night — not in her bed.

Isn’t it a shame when people allow their drinks to reveal exactly what their personality is, and isn’t it a shame how some people cannot handle alcohol. I must say, I would hate to be walking in that female’s shoes. She must have one heck of a hangover now.

No doubt, she will return to karaoke. She’s been there many times, and each time when she walks into the bar, she stumbles around. Last night, she could not handle her drinks, knocking them over while the only word she knows pours like liquor from her lips. Such a pity that a female would behave in such a manner. Even worse, such a pity that she obviously infuriated her friends who left her alone at the bar.

Did she make it home? Who knows!

Here is my wish for all of us as New Year, 2017 approaches. May we all live with respect and dignity, and may we not allow our brains to only know one word in our vocabulary — the ‘f’ bomb. We certainly hear it enough while at the movies!

Happy New Year, 2017. I’m praying for a wonderful year of good health, happiness, and dignity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers… Building A Bridge To A New Adventure


Dearest Readers:

Today, I will share a bit of my experience and dedication to Weight Watchers. I joined Weight Watchers in March, 2011. On the day I joined, I was mortified. Afraid. Horrified I would see someone I knew and they would share with the world that “Barbie was in Weight Watchers today…”

I’m certain some of you have acquaintances who love to spread gossip…the wicked and ugly truths some women love to share! Years ago, I referred to these ‘acquaintances’ as friends…I do not anymore! Friends do not spread ugly gossip. Friends accept you for who you are. True friends embrace you with love and acceptance, even when you are down.  I’ve known and lost a few ‘friends’ since in all total honesty — they were only acquaintances. They pretended to be your friend to your face, but turn your back and you almost feel the back-stabbing and the poisonous words they spat, and so — I keep my distance!

At my first meeting at Weight Watchers, I did not know anyone. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was apprehensive about the ‘confidential weigh-ins’ too. Approaching the desk, I did not see any curtains, or a doctor’s scale. You know the type. The weight measurements slide across until balanced, and the person who balanced the scale always leaves it to the latest weight. Everyone can see the weight of the person who weighed previously, and I cringe whenever I get on them. My newest experience with Weight Watchers was a scale sitting on the floor. I was certain others could stretch their snoopy eyes over to see how much a person weighed. That didn’t happen. The scale does not show anything, with exception of the person (a receptionist or leader) standing at the desk. Only she knows what the weight of each individual is, and they do not share the number to anyone! Believe me, the confidential weigh-in does exist!

Maybe this might work this time, I thought to myself as I approached the scales. Just maybe this time I will succeed.

I imagine you are thinking — what? Does she really think Weight Watchers works?

My reply to all of you reading this is a simple, “Yes! Weight Watchers, because it works!”

I recognize it has taken me five years to lose 35 pounds. And, in the past year, I have bounced back and forth, just like a yo-yo. Undoubtedly, 2016 has been one of the most stressful years of my life. In February, we had the roof to our home completely replaced. After that accomplishment, we searched for over two months to hire a general contractor to do the inside repairs on ceilings, walls and other areas due to the torrential rains we had in October 2015. On May 28, 2016, the repairs were completed. My husband had reverse shoulder replacement surgery on May 31. His recovery was a whirlwind of ups-and-downs. The summer of 2016 was so stressful, I found myself slipping away from Weight Watchers and everything I loved. No walking. No exercising. No writing. No dancing…No music or singing…Nothing!

Since the summer, I’ve found myself giving in to weaknesses. After all, it didn’t matter IF I gained weight. I’m happy to report, I did not put those lost 35 pounds back on; however, I have not met goal. I don’t even have a clue what my goal should be!

Today, while sitting at my meeting, I glanced around the room. Like most Weight Watchers meetings during the holidays, we had only a small group, including a 93-year-old woman and two men. Every time I see this precious, sweet and beautiful 93-year-old woman I am inspired. Many people would say, ‘at her age, why should she be so worried at her weight?’ I say, I think she is an inspiration to all of us. Yes, she uses a walker and maybe her shoulders slump a bit, but she is still full of life. To her, her weight is important. Today, she was furious with herself. She was baking cookies with her son this week, and that is why she gained a pound. Sitting in front of me, I tapped her on the shoulders. “Just look at how blessed you are to be baking cookies with your son.”

I’m so envious. During the Christmas holidays I do not see my son, even though he lives less than 30 miles from me. How I would love the opportunity to make Christmas cookies with him again. I suppose a mother can dream.

Every year since joining Weight Watchers, I tell myself the new year will be my year. I will break this plateau and achieve goal. No, I haven’t achieved my goal yet. At least I haven’t gained the weight back!

Not only have I kept the weight off, I have gained in confidence and self-worth, much to the credit of two wonderful friends I’ve made, thanks to Weight Watchers. Since I am a writer, my life is a bit isolated. I find myself spending too much time keeping to myself. Last year, before the torrential rain storms, and the storms brewing inside my home, I kept to myself. I quit walking. Now that I think about it, I realize those walks I took with my friends energized me by encouraging me to continue. Feeling the fresh air on my face, walking the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and enjoying the views, birds, flowers and freedom of walking, I found myself inspired. Refreshed. Now, I realize, I need to take a first step again to walk, to find that inspiration and motivation. Tomorrow morning, I plan to take that first step!

Today, at Weight Watchers, I gained. Big deal! I’ll get those two pounds off again. As for 2017, I will go on record to say, my journey and adventures with Weight Watchers will continue. I will walk. I will fill my body and my mind with new energy while telling myself:

THIS I DO FOR ME!

Although 2017 is only a few days and steps away, I will not fail. After all, You only fail in life when you stop believing…and trying…and moving.

I plan to continue my journeys, along with Weight Watchers! Tomorrow is a new day and I will embrace it!

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Dearest Caregiver…Becoming the Parent to A Parent…


Dearest Caregiver:
My heart breaks for you as you so suddenly see yourself walking in the shoes of a caregiver. Sometimes, these shoes are high heels. You go to work as a professional. You work all day while wondering ‘how is my mother or my father doing today?’ Maybe the shoes you walk in as a caregiver are flats, or comfortable sneakers. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet, your ache is a recurring ache your feet and body do not understand.
You wonder — just HOW did this happen? Maybe you didn’t understand your parent was ill. I didn’t in 1997. Yes, my dad had lost weight. Foolishly, I took it that since he lived on a fixed income, perhaps he could not afford to eat as healthy as he should. At Thanksgiving, I asked him how he was feeling. Mr. Independent, an affectionate description I called him sometimes, was much too independent and proud to ask me for help, and so I took his response of “I’m fine,” as the truth. Three days later, he phoned me after work, telling me he thought he had cancer. He needed to go to the doctor.
We rushed to ER. After seven hours of diagnostic testing, the ER professionals suggested my dad needed to see a gastroenterologist. Two days later, I screamed when the doctors told me my dad had esophageal cancer.
“How can this be?” I asked. “How can my dad be sick?”
My dad lived in an affordable retirement community. He had many friends there. Sitting down to grasp the heartbreaking news, I recognized I was so wrapped up in my professional life, I did not recognize my dad needed me. He was 84-years-old. Living alone, he walked all over the sidewalks and streets of historical Charleston, SC. Never did he ask for money, or anything from me. He excused my busy life. He was proud of me since I worked in the educational field. He understood I didn’t have time for him. He understood that not only did I work ’40-hours weekly’ my weekends were devoted to recruiting students for the university almost every weekend.
I heard myself whispering as I wiped tears from my face. “Dear God, I’ve been such a fool. My dad needs me. He NEEDS ME.”
I took a leave of absence from work. An endoscopy was performed on Dad. He had a tumor on his esophagus. A tumor that was too difficult to remove.
I met with an oncologist. He suggested Dad needed chemo/radiation therapy and a feeding tube. He could not keep food down. He was choking and extremely weak. Dad weighed 130 pounds. Previously, he tipped the scales at 175. The oncologist wanted to know what I wanted them to do. He stressed Dad needed the feeding tube since he was malnourished. If he didn’t get some form of food intake, he would probably die within two weeks. I looked up, tears still gushing down my face and I said, “My dad is an independent man. He needs to make that decision.”
Dad fought to live from December, 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999. During that time, my focus was my dad. When it was suggested that he needed ‘skilled care,’ I inquired as to what the definition of skilled care was. Suddenly, I was learning a lot about serving as a caregiver. I was the “Parent to my Parent.” I made decisions about his care. I found ways to jump through the hoops to get him the care he needed and deserved. I learned a lot about diplomacy, refusing to take “no” as an answer. My dad and I became closer than ever. I visited him daily regardless of where he was. He moved from hospital to nursing home. Back and forth again and again as he weakened and I found ways to save his nursing home room and roommate. Never did I let Dad know the hoops I jumped through, just to get him the care he deserved. I met with nursing staff. I found an Ombudsman, a young and caring medical professional who shared her knowledge with me so I could get my dad the medical care he deserved.
I am hopeful things have improved since 1999. After Dad’s death, I wrote “Condition of Limbo,” describing in detail what it was like to serve as a caregiver in a community that appeared to be ever so negligent where caregiving was concerned, along with the medical care.
Now, I have several friends who are becoming the “parent to a parent,” and they ask me what they should do to make certain their mother or father is cared for properly. After listening to their story, I’ve decided it might be easier to share my experience on my blog:
I continue praying for your family, your mother/father and you, hoping each day will be a better day for all of you. Many times, it isn’t. What I share at that time is for you to fight and pray…to believe that tomorrow will be a better day. Yes, clichés. Clichés helping us to see the sunshine while the pain you are feeling is almost indescribable. It is true you should take care of yourself; nevertheless, right now, you probably are losing sleep. You are too afraid to give in to sleep, in the event ‘something happens to Mom or Dad.’
As I’ve stated previously, I walked in similar shoes when my dad became terminally ill with esophageal cancer. I blinked my eyes as I realized I was now the ‘parent to my parent.’ Suddenly I was making decisions my father was much too ill to make. You wonder – how do I do this? How do I make decisions HE/SHE should be making?
All I can suggest for you is to take each day “one day at a time.” When meeting with medical professionals for “skilled care” — a description they do not identify or describe. Skilled care means 24-hour nursing care…make certain you document the dates/times, names, titles, and most important, document what they say. Save these notes. They might become important at a later date — according to the Medicare and Insurance regulations.
How I wish I could be there with you. While I do not proclaim to be a professional regarding ‘caregiving’ walking in those shoes in 1999 was a wakeup call for me. Please get some rest. Ask if the hospital has an atrium, or a chapel. Step inside and let the tears flow. That is what I did one afternoon at Roper Hospital in Downtown Charleston. Their Atrium was newly built. I found a balcony, and there, I cried. I screamed and I shouted for God to listen to me. No one but God could hear me when the rushing traffic congestion drowned out my heartbreak.
I’m sending virtual hugs to you, and I am praying, repeatedly. God is there. This too shall pass. Praying for your mother or father to become strong enough to get to the rehab center, and I am praying for you to rest and get additional emotional strength.
You might ask yourself: “What do I do if my parent comes home. Is he or she able to care for themselves? Do I hire a nurse, or do I move in?”
In a perfect world, you might ask other family members to help. Unfortunately, I did not have that luxury. I was estranged from family members at the time. Fortunately, I swallowed every ounce of pride I had to find my family and to let them know our father was terminally ill. I am happy to report, I have one sister I stay in contact with now and we are closer than ever.
Walking through life when you become the parent to your parent makes one stronger. I would like to say it is a wakeup call to the importance of family remaining close; however, life does have a way of changing us and at times, the true character of a family member can be revealed. Sometimes good, but most of the time – bad. While my dad battled cancer and grew weaker, I actually had one sister write Dad a letter — stating something to the effect of: “I’m sorry you’re so sick, but I have to work so I can’t come to see you.” Her next statement in the letter was: “So tell me Dad…am I STILL in your Will?”
Thank God she lived eight hours away. I wanted to strangle her.
Watching my dad slowly melting away from life taught me to take each day one day at a time, and to slow down to appreciate the little things in life. I visited him in the nursing home daily, unless my bronchial asthma kicked in. On one occasion, Dad was reading his Holy Bible. When he saw me entering his room he screamed at me. “You get out of here,” he shouted. “I want to read my Bible.”
I felt rejected. How could he speak to me in such a manner? Didn’t he know I loved him and wanted to be with him?
After researching caregiving, I realized my dad was detaching from me. He did not want me to see his pain, or to watch his body slowly fading away. On the day of his death, I had a dream/vision in the early morning. I phoned the nursing home at 3:45am, inquiring how he was doing. They checked on him, reporting he was sleeping soundly. That afternoon, after a stressful day of working later than I planned, I entered the nursing home at 5:45pm. I ran into a nurse pushing an oxygen tank. She looked away from me, moving next to me.
“Ooh…that isn’t a good sign,” I said. She nodded. When she placed her hand on the doorway of my dad’s room, I screamed. I knew what was happening. The nurse pushed my hand away from the door. “You stay here,” she said.
Someone moved me to a couch. I sat down, tears pouring like an endless waterfall from my eyes and I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew the day of dad’s departure from me was here. I also knew I had to let him go.
After his death, my independence kicked in. I managed to plan the funeral. I moved like a zombie, without emotion or pain. I prayed for God to give me strength. Now 17 years after his death, I still miss him. There are days when I feel totally empty of emotions, and I have days where he is tucked safely inside my heart. I do not regret serving as his caregiver and I am proud we became closer and closer as he slowly melted away from me. Today, I am proud to say I was his daughter and I am pleased to share my experience with others who unexpectedly become:
THE PARENT TO A PARENT.
If you walk in similar shoes, I would love to read your experience and I am praying Medicare changed many of the regulations after 1999. If you are a caregiver, may God bless you as you care for a parent who taught you how to walk, how to talk and how to become a strong, independent and proud adult. Once my dad pushed me in a stroller. When he became so ill with cancer, I helped guide him with his walker, and later I pushed him in a wheelchair. But only once! He hated a wheelchair, refusing to sit in it again.
Yep. That was my dad. A proud, tall, striving to be independent 84-years-old man. Never did I see his elderly age. All I saw was — my father…My Dad! How I miss him!

When and If Hurricane Matthew Comes to the Lowcountry…


Dearest Readers:
Within 24-36 hours, we, in the low country, will know what our chance of meeting Hurricane Matthew is. Here’s what I predict. As most of you know, Charleston, SC is the ‘number one city in the world.’ No doubt, a Chamber of Commerce statement. Yes, it is a beautiful city. Antiquated!!! And I’m not certain IF the city has decided to get with the program and join the 21-first century!
If the hurricane is predicted to hit our coast, I imagine a ‘mandatory evacuation’ will finally be whispered. Remember — we have ’42 families moving into the low country daily.’ Well…we’ve had growth. Amazing, nightmarish growth…New construction is built almost everywhere – however, only roads leading into the subdivisions are made. Our dignitaries cannot make decisions about building additional roads. Their comments are “No money. And If we built new roads, where would we put them? Good question. Excellent observation…but why can’t they make a decision about I-526, or additional roads? Demolishing trees certainly isn’t hard since they completely destroy most of the trees in every new subdivision now. When I moved to Charleston, I was impressed how trees were saved. Not anymore!
If we use Highway 41 to evacuate — we will be parked right on the road when Matthew arrives. I’ve had that happen before in 1999. During that ‘mandatory evacuation’ we moved 57 miles in nine hours! Can you imagine holding your bladder for nine hours? I saw men walking into the woods of Highway 41. I wasn’t about to do that! And, I doubt if men could walk into the woods now – due to the area now filled with new subdivisions, shopping, and other suburban developments. Incidentally, I should mention when my husband was released from work to evacuate – so was every employee in Charleston. I suppose you’ve never read about these nightmares in infamous Charleston, SC — have you? Yes, a beautiful city – unable to handle the traffic hurricanes create when we are finally told ‘this is a mandatory evacuation.’ Yeah. Right. Charleston, what orbit are you on? Face reality! Mandatory evacuation is not possible!
If we have a ‘mandatory evacuation,’ we will not join that parking lot! We will gather our things. Our friends – the best four-legged kind – and we will stay in the hallway of our home. Reportedly, if it hits the coast of the low country, it will be only a category 2 storm. We’ve been here at home for those before. Remember last October?  We had the ‘hundred-year-storm,’ as the dignitaries called it.
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View of the Charleston Harbor and Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
In reality, it was a tropical storm/mini-hurricane.’ Not my definition of it, but one of the appraisers when I filed a claim and was told “You are not covered!”
Yes, I cancelled that policy and all the policies I had with that insurance company. Never again…Lesson Learned – the expensive way!
So, I am here to let you know – IF Hurricane Matthew comes to town in the low country, we will remain here in our home. Yes. The power will probably be cut off, just like Hurricane Hugo. I will go to the grocery store to get a few non-perishable items we can eat, along with our precious family friends, and we will be fine.
I’m praying my home will be fine. It took us four months to get our beautiful roof replaced in February, 2016. Interior construction from the damage we had during that storm wasn’t completed until May 28, 2016. On May 31, Phil had reverse shoulder replacement – which created another storm I never want to experience again. A physical, emotional roller coaster ride for both of us.
I am staying tuned in to the Weather Channel, and local weather reports, praying this storm will die down for our world. I’m beginning to hate hurricanes. The lightning. Winds. Rain…RAIN…AND MORE RAIN…create only one thing – a time to appreciate life and be thankful for the little things in life.
Hurricane Matthew we do not want you to be another traveling companion or tourist in the low country. Why don’t you move out to sea and disappear! You are not welcome here!
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Cypress Gardens Still Closed Due to The ‘Hundred Year Storm.’