ALL COMFY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Comfortable

Note: Yes, it is the wrong word, but somehow, this is what popped up in my email this morning. So I’m going with it anyway!


Comfortable is what I wish I were, but which, so far, I’m not. Despite a new mattress, pillows, and all that, by the time morning has rolled around, my back has seized up.

It’s frustrating, not to mention painful. On a more positive note, the thing I have to do — which is the thing I don’t want to do because I could really use another couple of hours of sleep — is get up and move.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Every time I see Lionel Barrymore in his wheelchair — a result of his arthritis — I wonder how come they didn’t help the guy keep moving. But those were the days when if it hurt a lot, they plopped you in a wheelchair and that was it. Bad idea.

Arthritis hurts. No argument. About the only thing that makes it hurt less is activity. It doesn’t have to be heavy exercise. Mostly, I can’t do that for other reasons including that my heart doesn’t like it.

Light exercise helps a lot. “Woman’s work” like vacuuming the house, cooking, dusting — all of that and other examples of inside work loosen you up and make you feel a lot better. Quickly, too. A bit of gardening and even light raking or snow shoveling makes it better.

Marilyn can still walk! Photo: Garry Armstrong

The hardest part of the effort is not doing the work. It’s getting out of bed and getting started. I have to do a lot of mental pushing and shoving to convince myself that it’s what I need to do. Oh, those conversations with one of me saying “Sleep. You need sleep. You are tired.”

Meanwhile, the other me is shrieking “Get your lazy butt out of bed and do something. Come on! You can do it.” I frequently say it out loud too, sitting on the edge of the sofa telling myself “You can do this, I know you can. One little push and you’ll be up and moving.”

Eventually, the second me wins.

Those first few steps are pretty wonky, but I look relatively normal a bit later. Eventually.

My arthritis is severe. I take relatively high (or as high as I’m willing to go) amounts of painkiller. All they do is lower the level of discomfort. Nothing will fix it. More drugs won’t make it hurt less and would probably make the rest of me feel worse.

I had surgery to fix my spine when I was 19. It was an early version of the work they do these days, but without the electronic assistance and tiny implements. Everything depended on saws, drills, and bone paste created from a different bone (my left hip).  It crumbled over the years and now, it’s a mess. No surgeon wants to go fix another surgeon’s mess. Fixing old surgeries is one of those things most surgeons hate.

Since chances are about equal of making things better — or making them much worse — and this from Boston’s top spinal neurologist — I’ll pass.

Clean!

I’m up. Not quite at’em yet, but I’m working on it. It’s about an hour and a half earlier than I wanted to on my feet, but I am out of bed, dressed, having coffee. The vacuuming is done. The dogs are barking. The sun is shining through the hazy, humid air. And I feel better.

Almost comfortable.

WHAT’S A DAY WITHOUT A CHALLENGE? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #63 – CHALLENGE


Lately, every day is challenging. Life is a challenge.

Yesterday’s challenge was getting everything that needed doing, done. My son doesn’t have a lot of time off from work. It was the first of the month, which meant I had some money in the account. The freezer was heading towards empty and Garry is not allowed to haul groceries. This is not one of the things he sees as a challenge, so he had no problems with me taking care of it.

Testing, testing …

I want to make it clear that he is entirely capable of doing anything he wants to do, albeit rather more slowly than in earlier years. The hardest parts of my experience with Garry’s surgery is preventing him from exercising or doing anything strenuous. And NOT blowing his nose.

He is an exercise junkie. Since basic training in the Marine Corps, he needs that exercise and not doing it makes him feel weird and uncomfortable. I get that.

Right now, he can’t. No heavy living, no heavy hauling. He has one month — four weeks — when he can’t lift, haul — or blow his nose. He forgets about the nose blowing, so every time he does it (instinct wins over doctor’s notes), he feels as if his head will explode. That’s a hard-to-ignore reminder. Exercise is a different problem.

Garry digging out

We had it out the other night and I finally had to say: “This is your body, your ears. Your hearing. You’ve waited a lifetime for this miracle. Are you going to blow it to by secretly doing push-ups?” For me, this is a no-brainer. Obviously, we are in different head spaces on this.

He thinks I’m rejecting him. His male translation of my comments is that I don’t care what happens to him, but the truth is 180 degrees in the other direction. The idea of actually being able to have a conversation I don’t need to shout from three-inches away from his left ear makes my heart race.

That being said, I can’t follow him constantly reminding him of what he needs to do or more to the point, not do. Sort of like the ancient court jester and the king. I probably need different clothing and a bladder.

Garry reads the doctor’s notes every morning when he gets up, to remind himself of the instructions. I love him madly and want this to work for him, but he has to want it at least as much as I do. In the end, it’s not my body, not my issue.

It’s a bigger challenge for him than it would be for me. But for heaven’s sake — IT’S JUST FOUR WEEKS. His body will not disintegrate from lack of exercise after one month of skipping morning exercises. He can go back to two hundred push-ups before August is over. Yes, he really does 200 push-ups every morning along with other exercises.

That doesn’t seem like a huge price to pay for the privilege of hearing for the first time in his life. He can walk, do light work around the house — you know, the stuff I usually do — and watch as many baseball games as he can fit in a given day. And maybe fit in a movie or three. He could also take the camera and take a few hundred pictures. We could stroll in the park.

A challenge, I have concluded, is different for each of us. My biggest challenge is getting out of bed, then actually walking. The rest of my day is easier, but I have to get past that challenge.

Garry is far more complicated.

ANOTHER DAY SHOT TO HELL – Marilyn Armstrong

Not so much a bad day as one of those days where you don’t get to stop. Didn’t get to comments. Haven’t opened my email. Haven’t taken any pictures. Other than the one I wrote early this morning, I haven’t written anything today.

Because? First, there were the phone calls. I didn’t make them yesterday and absolutely had to make today. A long conversation with our trash collectors, leading to my piece on garbage and a “senior rate” for collection. A discussion about bears because they have been sighted in the woods. Wondering about the price of bear-proof trash bins.

The current big plastic bins cost more than $100 each and that’s for the company to buy en masse. Bears are powerful animals who love trash. A 96-gallon bin that locks them out $671 on Amazon, but Jet.com sells the same bin for $377. I don’t know how good these are, either. An interesting price differential, too.

I have nothing against bears, but they are big and powerful and I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with them. The coyotes are enough of an issue, not to mention the skunk and wildcats and raccoons. Are we ready for bear?

Then Owen was here and off we went to buy groceries. Which was followed by unpacking and stowing all that stuff.

A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel that went on for hours entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as we suspected, they were having the problem, not us.

I needed to fix Garry’s broken email which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete your old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

Portrait of the man and dog

The family dropped by. And then, it was dinner time.

I made dinner. Steak, corn, and yellow summer squash. I’m not enthusiastic about zucchini, but I love big yellow squashes. Deliveries from Amazon: 20 lbs of dog food! No hungry kids in our family.

Realized I forgot to buy lunch meat and never found the lens cleansers, though I looked. Really. I looked. Garry says they are way up on the top shelf. I am short so my eyes never got there.

Home again

There’s a bad bearing on the front left wheel of the Jeep and I had to make sure it got fixed. Bad bearings get worse. We have a lot of driving to do this month and next.

The hospital’s automated equipment called twice more to remind us of our appointment with the doctor on Monday. They have called every day this week.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but each thing took time. With the washing of the dishes, the day is done and I feel like it never entirely started. I knew this month was going to get weird.

I was right. At least it was better than yesterday. On my agenda for tomorrow? Other than housekeeping and vacuuming? Explaining to the doctor that Garry’s out of hydrochlorothiazide because Duke ate the container.

Duke

We aren’t sure what happened to the pills, but since Duke is fine, I have to assume he didn’t eat them.

SHORTER IS BETTER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have seen many plays that were interesting, but way too long. The producers had to fill out the required time for a Broadway play, whether or not they had enough good material. A lot of movies are also too long for the same reason.

To me, most action movies are no more than a series of barely distinguishable scenes of violence strung together from the opening credits and beginning “premise,” to an even more spectacularly violent dénouement. As far as I’m concerned, you could cut movies of this genre in half without altering the plot (what plot?) at all. But then, you might have a 47-minute movie which no one would pay to see. I would be one of the people who didn’t pay to see it.

smiley-face-desktop-x-391568

This is particularly painful with comedies, particularly on television. Many sit-coms have a few funny bits and that’s it. The rest of the show just isn’t funny. In a perfect world, you could air an 18-minute episode because that’s all the funny material you had. You should be able to present the material that works, then call it a day.

For the most part, half-hour shows are only 21 minutes after subtracting commercial breaks. Take off another one or two for coming attractions and you’re down to 19 minutes. So maybe the problem is the really bad scripts? Maybe they only feel long because they are so bad? Or maybe they are so short, there’s no time to develop a plot?

I worry about this with blogs too. I have good ideas but I they don’t always add up to a whole post. So I’m simply going to present a few paragraphs from a couple of interesting articles I read recently.

First, apparently, babies and young children are ‘designed,’ by evolution, to seem cute and winning to adults to ensure kids get the maximum love and attention they need to thrive and grow. Infants’ big eyes, button noses, and chubby cheeks elicit a kind of primal bonding reaction in adults. So do the sounds they make and the way they smell. It’s a visceral, chemical, and nearly universal reaction.

Children start to lose those physically attractive ‘baby’ features around age two or three, so adults are hard-wired to respond equally strongly to the speech patterns of young children.

The way kids perceive and say things sound funny and charming to us. Their observations about the world seem irresistibly adorable. This phenomenon has a name: “Cognitive Babyness.” Studies show that between age two and seven, a child’s cute behavior replaces their cute faces in stimulating a caregiving response.

Go evolution!

Ana McGuffey - 1946 - Mme. Alexander - Doll's faces are intended to embody the "adorable" factor of real toddlers.
Ana McGuffey – 1946 – Mme. Alexander – Doll’s faces are intended to embody the “adorable” factor of real toddlers.

So much for interesting factoids. I’ll move to my next mini topic.

I taught Yoga and Meditation for eight years. I know the enormous benefits to adults — increased focus, attention span, calmness, control, and confidence. Also, decreased tension and stress, anger, frustration, distractibility, and fewer physical aches and pains. It never occurred to me that teaching some form of Yoga and/or Mindfulness into schoolchildren might have the same amazing benefits. \

Recently, I’ve read articles about these kinds of programs being taught in kindergarten through high school, all around the country. They have produced outstanding results.

The skills taught have reduced the symptoms in ADHD kids. Calmed children with anxiety disorders. Helped kids with learning issues, behavior problems, and social deficits. The same studies have shown improved grades, a higher degree of empathy and kindness between kids — and an enhanced enthusiasm for school.

Many schools have incorporated some form of mindfulness into the curriculum for teachers as well as students.

Way to go! Good for you! Over and out!

HOW DOES THE OCEAN CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY WORK?

This is one of the things they are doing to try to clean up the mess.

ScienceSwitch

Plastic was long considered to be a revolutionary material. But, what has it turned into now? A trash – and millions of tons of it end up in the ocean every year. Of course there are plenty of attempts to thwart this growing problem, but this approach by the Ocean Cleanup seems to be the most effective. Here’s how it works.

THIS IS COOL. I WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING ELSE, TOO!

Video via – The Ocean Cleanup
Further Readings And References @ ABC News, The Ocean Cleanup Technology, Plastic Oceans Foundation

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