IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN – CEE’S SHARE YOUR WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – August 13, 2018


I want to start off — again — with the Garry cochlear implant update.

He is doing better. He is less wobbly, can usually get up and down the stairs, but I’m glad we have a handrail. His ear is still sore.

Not internally, but externally and I suspect it’s his addiction to wearing headphones for watching television that is preventing it from healing as fast as it otherwise would. In the end, he’s a big boy.

He has to make his own decisions. I don’t think the irritation he’s causing is serious. There’s no sign of infection or oozing or any of the things that would normally alarm me, but it is definitely redder and more sore-looking than it was earlier in the week. It might be better if he left it to heal, but hey, it’s his ear.

Overall, things are gradually getting more normal. Not “normal, normal,” but close to what I think normal might be — for us.

Finally, we are close to his getting all that fancy techno-headgear that should enable him to really hear. Pretty exciting!

Garry will get his own superpower.


A class you wish you would have taken?

I still wish I’d taken a few photography courses so I’d have a better grip on the terminology of photography. I know how to do most of the stuff, but I often have no idea what it’s called. I took one course, a long time ago on wedding photography, but that was more than 50 years ago.


I decided to take a webinar given by Topaz this week on how to use the filters to make the pictures better, but more natural. There are a lot of free webinars online and I usually skip them because I’m at a point where “going to school” is on the bottom of my to-do list.

But since I don’t have to travel and it’s free, why not? Maybe I’ll learn something useful! Can’t hurt, can it?

Are you scared of heights?

Not as much as I was when I was younger. I get dizzy on the edge of a drop and I have what I think is a healthy fear of falling. That includes falling individually or falling in a car or on a horse or any old way.

Falling off horses is what did my spine in the first time around. I hesitate to imagine what it would do to me now.

Ouch.

Are you a good cook? If so, do you consider yourself a chef?

I’m a good cook. I’m definitely not a chef because I’m simply not careful about measuring quantities and reproducing the same recipe the same way each time — and that is the difference between a cook and a chef. (An actual chef taught me that.)

 

Measuring.

Making sure the same recipe comes out the same way each time. I’m much more of a “what do I have in the fridge?” kind of cook. With a couple of exceptions, I doubt any two meals of mine have ever come out the same twice!

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

 

I was very happy with the Manhattan chowder. I should have cooked the bacon longer, but otherwise, it was as good as any red chowder I’ve ever tasted.

MOTHERHOOD WITH BENEFITS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My English friend’s daughter, Katie, just had her first baby. She is 37 and has an established career she loves. Because she lives in England, having her baby will not affect her position at work. She gets nine-months of maternity leave and is guaranteed her job back when her leave is over.

For an American, that whole concept is amazing. Women in America are afraid to take the full legal six-weeks maternity leave for fear of negative repercussions on the job.

I’ve recently read that many women in America are choosing not to have children because motherhood would adversely affect their careers.

Women have to fight harder to establish themselves professionally and prove they are as good as the men they work with. Therefore, they don’t want to give up the gains they fought for make by having kids. They shouldn’t have to, but apparently, mothers are routinely treated with prejudice throughout corporate America.

Mothers are not viewed or treated like childless female workers or even male workers with kids. Mothers’ loyalty and commitment to their professions are always questioned.

Corporate life leaves no room for a family life. At least not for women. Mothers in the workforce have a terrible time balancing work and home life. They’re afraid to give any priority to their families, which creates tremendous stress. And hurts families.

There are other benefits Kate has as a new mother in England which American moms don’t have.

The English National Health Service, though stretched to the limit, still offers invaluable services to mothers of newborns. Kate can call an experienced midwife whenever she needs advice. When Kate was worried about nursing, a midwife with an expertise in lactation issues came to Kate’s house. She sat with Kate while she fed her daughter and offered advice and support. This would have been invaluable to me but is unheard of in America. I would have to find my own expert and pay for her services.

In addition, the midwives, as well as the GP’s in England, pay close attention to the new mother’s mental health. They are on guard for any signs of postpartum depression. This is considered a major part of postnatal care in England. Not in the U.S.

The National Health Service also offers something called the Lullaby Café, a place for new mothers to meet each other under the guidance of a trained midwife. The professional is there to answer questions, offer advice and comfort, as the voice of experience. I would have loved to have something like this when I had my first child. Mommy And Me ‘classes’ were just playgroups, not healthcare.

The new moms in my group had to compare notes and figure things out on our own. Truly the blind leading the blind. We also had to pay for our group activities, until we could form our own groups and meet in each other’s homes.

For Kate, her group experience is both free and educational.

So if you’re going to have a baby, especially if you also want a career, you’re better off if you’re British than American. Given our broken and morally corrupt healthcare system, that’s hardly a big surprise!

 

HOME AND HUSBAND – Marilyn Armstrong

I really haven’t been getting out there to take pictures. Between Garry’s surgery and the intensely hot, steamy weather, it just hasn’t been all that inviting outside.

Four orchids, still blooming

But, yesterday, because Owen had just hacked down the insanely overgrown forsythia hedge that had fully intertwined with strangleweed and wild grape vines, it was an almost respectable yard.

Still blooming after all these weeks

And then, there was Garry. I was determined to take a picture of him where he didn’t look like he was half asleep.

August woods are the darkest green of the year

Today, when we got to the doctor’s office — 15 minutes early — we were sitting on the steps waiting for them to get back from lunch and I realized Garry looked better than yesterday, so I took a few (three is a few, right?) pictures.

A bright day with temperature nearly 100 (that’s about 38 for you metric folks). Note the missing hedge. You can see the fence!

So this is our life, for the moment. The garden has gone to weeds now that the daylilies are dead. Not to worry because I have a ton more pictures of them, as well as the roses.

Today, Garry heard from our own doctor that he’s doing really well. Now, all he has to do is start to feel well. This is often harder than it seems, especially when medically, you’re doing fine, but all your body wants to do is go back for a very long nap. But his blood pressure is perfectly normal, healing is fine. All the magnets, wires, coils are perfectly placed and he has more hearing in what was thought to be the “dead” ear than anyone thought.

It takes time to feel as good as they (your doctors) say you should feel. Been there. But you get there. It merely takes more time than you think it should. We all want to be “fine” immediately. It doesn’t usually work that way.

I’m sure I took more shots of the orchids which are, remarkably, still blooming happily in their pot by the French doors.

Old wooden lawn chairs in the shade

Life in the hazy, hot, and humid northeast.

FANDANGO’S ONE WORD CHALLENGE – THE SETTING : DOCTORS! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Setting

Yesterday’s setting was Garry’s first post-surgical checkup at UMass Memorial. Today’s setting is going to be (in an hour from now) our regular family guy to see if we can get his blood pressure a little lower

Doctor’s office in Douglas

Mostly, it’s good news.

We discovered that he has residual hearing in his right ear and more of it than we expected. This is a good thing because it will make getting “natural” sounds in his “implanted” ear easier. The device with his own hearing will give him better highs and lows.

He won’t get all his super-high-tech equipment until August 24th, but the doctor is pretty sure he’s going to have good hearing fast. Like maybe immediately.

A sunny day in the backyard while the temperature is almost 100.

No one can explain how in the world he got Blue-Tooth from my speaker without external equipment, but he did. My speaker also has a small transmitter and Garry was wearing powered headphones, so something happened. But regardless, once he has all the rest of the gear, it won’t happen without special equipment.

Definitely the right shirt for the season. Do you think the extreme heat may have something to do with being tired? It’s really hot out there!

The incision is healed and all the wires and magnets and coils are in the right places in his head. Neat and clean. I’m trying to get him to send me a photograph of it, but we haven’t figured out how to turn the x-ray into a photograph. Yet. But I’ll keep trying. It’s really interesting.

Garry is very tired. He thinks it’s because he’s a “right-side” sleeper and that’s the ear that had the surgery. He hasn’t been able to sleep in a comfortable position since the surgery, but he can at this point if he wants to since everything is nicely healed.

He also looks sleepy all the time. I think he’s still got a bit of hangover from the anesthesia. He also needs to get back to doing normal stuff, including exercise. Sitting around all the time isn’t his most healthy choice.

Now, we wait another 18 days and then — magic.

He’s ready to go now and I don’t blame him, but they won’t put the technology in place until everything is 100% healed, so they always let it go slightly over a full month. Just to be sure.

Meanwhile, to keep him sane, the Red Sox are winning and it keeps him from watching the news and getting completely crazy.

FREE AT LAST – Marilyn Armstrong

Retirement is better than childhood.

You don’t work as a child, but they make you go to school — which can be as bad and sometimes, worse than work. Moreover, childhood is prepping for the work of your future and as such, is a worrying environment.

Other people set your schedule and tell you what to eat, drink, and wear.

Now, in retirement? No school, unless you feel like it. No one sets your schedule or tells you what to wear. You can hang around in your PJs or underwear. And some of us do exactly that.

In your working years, you grow increasingly tired until one day, you look in a mirror.

“Self,” you say. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“I could retire,” you point out to yourself. “I could pack it in, take the money.” As you think this, a little bell goes ding-a-ling deep in your brain, It’s a bell labeled “What money?” Have you sat with HR to find out what kind of money you have in your retirement fund?

Do you have a retirement fund? How about a 401 K?

“And anyway,” you continue, “There is Social Security, right? I’ve worked hard my entire life. Surely there’s enough there to sustain life?”

So begins the intricate dance by which you detach yourself from the working world and figure out from where all future paychecks will come. It isn’t easy, but you work something out because there always comes a point when you really don’t have a choice. You are finished with work … and work is finished with you, too.

You slide into a place where many long-deferred pleasures await you. Hobbies are now your primary activity. You have free time that is truly free. Pity about the lack of a paycheck, but most of us feel that the freedom of retirement is a pretty good trade-off, though there are good days and not-so-good ones.

Marilyn with Cows – Photo: Garry Armstrong

You get up when you like. Go to bed when you want. You sleep late as often as possible. You can read until the sun come up and watch old movies until sleep pulls you into darkness.

You can blog, read, and write your memoirs. Travel, if money and your physical condition allow. Most of us, after some initial confusion, settle down and discover retirement is good. Even considering all the restrictions, physical issues, and losses … it’s very good. For many of us, this is the first real freedom we’ve ever known.

Ducks on a golden day in November

Barring ill-health — and don’t we all wish we could bar ill-health — is far better than working no matter what your income. Finally, you don’t have a boss telling you what to do. You are no longer a slave to the whims of your spoiled darlings who hopefully, have flown the coop and nest elsewhere, but remember to call and visit. With luck, they won’t fly back, bringing a birdie spouse and the fledglings.

Would I work anyway if I had the option?

Return to an office?

Face deadlines?

Doing what I’m told or face the consequences?

Schedules every day of every week for year after year, on the job and off? Endless commutes? Taking ten minutes to get a sandwich, then wolfing it down while seated at the computer to the accompaniment of acid reflux?

No. I think not.

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.