Category Archives: A Cat’s Life

Retirement Month One continued…

Our New Year’s evening of  2019 consisted of eating, licking our fingers, unpacking, doing a little walk around the neighborhood, watched some TV and then abandoned all the plans we’d been chatting about: like a midnight hot-tub as they are open 24 hours a day, then re-thinking that plan as we could do the hot tub in the morning.

Well midnight came…was I awake? I can’t remember. I do remember that morning came and the trek to the hot tub didn’t happen.

After being several days on the road, traveling from B.C. Canada, including making an overnight stop to visit friends in California who we’ve known since our early married years when Ross was in Seminary at Fresno, California – anyway, we were tired out and just sat in our little bungalow and relaxed.

January 1 and 2, 2020.  Morning coffee, which in my opinion is the best time of day, settling in and unpacking…full sun days, played some outdoor pickleball and reconnected with people not seen since last spring.

This retirement experience so far was going well.  Great in fact.

January 3. A most annoying feeling began to happen…. scratchy sore throat.  My throat.

January 4.  Scratchier throat.  The interpretation of a scratchy throat is raw, like swallowing sharp little sticks. I know this sign well enough so off to the store I go and Hubby too of course.

At the base of my neck a pain developed which radiated down into my left shoulder, the exact location there are some bone compression’s. As the flu/cold symptoms increased so did the pain in my body and so did the frustration level with anyone in my recent memory who’d had a cold in my presence even though I could have picked up a bug anywhere.

Hubby became more helpful, attentive and quiet as I became sicker.

I tried to be upbeat, I really did.

We bundled ourselves up warm because it gets quite chilly in the desert and took a little trip south, or north or west – I have no idea because most of the time I get lost in the resort park so I can’t be expected to know where I am once I leave here. More so if I’m busy feeling sorry for myself and ill.

We were off to see the hot air balloons…flu pain in my shoulder and neck…sore throat…pain medications flowing through me and trying to be enthusiastic about the upcoming event.

I know, I know…I do know better.  Should’ve really been home in bed.

However, I was trying to be a good retirement wife full of frolicking fun even though I had to fake it a lot.

Okay.  So, we did that – saw the balloons, saw a lovely lake backdrop, felt the excitement as the balloons heated up one by one, lit up and glowing beautifully with all the various rainbow colors, then felt the cold descend as the darkness of night arrived.

A band played.

People danced on the grass.

Food trucks dished out hamburgers and hot dogs.

Other people did as we did, stood around waiting for something to happen. One balloon went up, up, up to the end of its tether. Then it came down and that was the extent of the excitement for me.

It was dark, desert dark, and cold, desert cold.

After two hours of being upbeat and engaged with the surroundings, I was done.

Those balloons may have eventually done a finale of all going up to the end of their tethers, but Hubby and I did not stick around long enough to find out.

In the next days to come the throat soreness eased up as the nose plugged up…and then the nose blowing began.

This must be quite exciting reading…

It must have been torture for Hubby to listen to me because I sounded like a honking semi-truck on the freeway and continued like that for several more days before I became more human like.

And the bronchial cough – oh the cough…though I did discover a nice liquid drink which drugged and subdued my system at night so I could sleep.

We have some wonderful friends here in the park who are our go-to people when we need help and need to borrow items.  We seem to need help a lot.

We appreciate them – not so sure they appreciate us as we tend to be such scrounges.

For three years in a row I have borrowed their vaporizer because for three years in a row my body has arrived in Arizona and gotten sick.

I so love that vaporizer humming all night which also helped me breathe easier. Well, I love them too for owning it.

I received such good care. Hubby man really came through on the meal preparation, clearing away the Kleenex snot piles and listening to me moan about, well… everything.

I didn’t like being cold. I didn’t like the recliner chair I barely had the energy to get out of.

I missed Thomas the Cat.

I needed hugs but that wasn’t likely going to be happening much. I was hungry but didn’t want anything to eat.

Meanwhile, as the recovery happened, we still explored the grocery stores, got involved in our daily life here and reconnected with people as I was able.

Hubby came and went to various places mostly alone, because if it included the gym, the pool or the hot tub or took any effort at all I declined.

I’m quite sure it wasn’t all that much fun, however he tends to like his own company, so he wasn’t really complaining.

After two weeks of this part of retirement fun….as the sore throat left, and the flu/cold symptoms shifted, the pain in my neck and shoulder also eased off.

This was a relief because it meant I had not injured myself on the pickleball courts and the future was looking brighter.

And then, as flu and cold bugs do, they decided they’d had enough of me, and likely jumped over to anyone unfortunate enough to have been too close to me.

Like Hubby.

And then…because his immune defenses were down, he does what he typically tends to do.

Ignore the symptoms. Deny the existence of illness yet medicate and keep going.

We are such different creatures.  He informed me it wasn’t a cold he had but just his ongoing sinus issues from the fall.  Okay. Fine.

One thing, and this is only one thing I’ve learned in forty-one years of marriage, is this: when we are both experiencing new things, are perhaps immune system weakened and trying to process life as it happens, there can be clash of personality, of goals for the day or month and suddenly one little thing, any particular little comment just may trigger some emotions.

We were heading into a clash…

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Infectious Bacteria Stalkers-My Summer Saga

Seven

After nearly two months of illness, on Sunday July 11th I felt well enough to attend a church service.  The pastor who spoke that day read Psalm 23 and challenged others to read and ponder over a weeks’ time what God might be saying individually.

I took up the challenge and my regular journal recorded… after my first reading, the 4th verse jumped out at me, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – fearing no evil…  my immediate reaction is fear. Perhaps because I’ve been ill for 2 months and that’s been terrible enough. I would struggle greatly with a “death sentence.”

I’m not finished here yet but often I wonder what I’m doing – what’s of value – what’s not.  Too often I believe I’m simply coasting, putting in time – wondering, waiting, – not living the life intended for me…I then recalled some areas of my life where I’d struggled by not fulfilling my own life’s dreams and the current journey to rectify that.

My journal ended with, Now what? What’s it all meant? How am I moving forward?

It was weeks before I made it back to my journal as my body let me know it had been through a battle and needed some more assistance.

With all the antibiotics and pain medications going into me my gut ran out of good bacteria and the nasty bacteria called Clostridium Difficile decided to take over. Was it already there? Had I picked it up somewhere else? Why me?  I’ll never know…

The bacteria were in control and with a bare minimum of details, I stayed home, I stayed close to the bathroom and I stayed in bed.  It was the amount of blood passing through me that sent me back to plunk myself down in the doc’s chair once again.

So, one might ask, how does C Difficile get treated?  The crazy answer is with yet another antibiotic.

In my Gratitude Journal July 22 – Grateful for “more” antibiotics to kill off the C Difficile bug in my body.  I will hopefully be on the mend. 

On that day, I continued my Psalm 23 reflections and in my regular journal, recorded some notes…Bang – right off the top – The LORD is my shepherd, not life, not hubby, not the things about me.  “I shall not be in want”

He will satisfy me – as I think about what to write, what to paint, where to spend time…if I go to my Shepherd and ask for his direction he will guide me, show me and lead me because “his rod and staff” they will comfort me. In him, amid his presence I am surrounded by his cloud of protection.  Whatever it is I do; it will be right.

The following day in a continued somber mood Psalm 23’s reflections met mine and my pen flowed with ink over several pages in my regular journal.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

The water runs out of the spout in my garden fountain, into a bowl and trickles below only to cycle through the system again, and again.

This is how God is leading me beside quiet waters.

I’ve sat many hours this summer, listening to the water, waiting to be well while one strange infection after another attacks my body.

I live in a Modular Home Park – AKA (also known as) a mobile home park where a typical impression might be one of lower class, poor and unkempt – a TV view of what I’ve often heard called, ‘white trailer trash’.

I love it here, when I can put aside my own biased views of my home location. Out my back door is the deck designed by hubby who then enlisted the services of his talented brother to build.

Surrounding our little yard is the wood fence designed and built by hubby earlier this spring just as the garden was coming to life and I became ill. My daughter and I had assisted just enough one day to get bragging rights that ‘we’ built the fence together.

The fence keeps Thomas the Cat within, who graciously chooses not to jump and run and is the perfect backdrop for the multitude of seasonal pops of color that have entertained me.

I feel protected and contained within my boundaries – it reminds me of ‘walking with Jesus’ along the narrow path – completely free within.

So, I sit, I think, I pray…

I wish I were well, I fight with the frustration and anger that rises within me.  I have little choice but to relax, accept that I feel fatigued, have little energy and I cannot control this current situation. I can instead, enjoy watching my cat enjoy being outside with me looking at the birds and listen to their songs.  Like him, I can stretch out my legs and lift my face to the warmth of the sun and simply… be beside quiet waters.

This is my moment to be grateful for all I have and which is being provided for me.

On Monday, August 1st I wrote in my Grateful Journal, Grateful. Feel better/off medication.

On Monday, August 22nd I wrote in my Grateful Journal, Grateful.  Sunshine. Feel Healthy.  Have options. Have a future to enjoy.

 

Please look for my next and last entry on …my summer saga…after all, summer came and went, fall rains arrived and it is nearly time for Christmas trees and snowfalls.

 

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Infectious Bacteria Stalkers-My Summer Saga

Six

With my suspicions (drug induced?) that some bacteria, perhaps from my treks to the emergency ward and my overnight sleep in ICU had mysteriously found its way into my blood stream I spent my days at home.  Over the next weeks I managed to become well enough to gather blankets and pillows and sit in my glider chair and watch the goings on in my back yard.

Observing a garden come to life may not be exciting for some people but for me it is like having more and more friends popping over just to say hello.  I hung out on my deck so long  I watched the stalks grow taller and my ‘friends’ bloomed with vibrant colors of purple, white, yellow.   Just for added fun, my Hosta leaves unfurled, opening like fans over all to bring shade roofs for tender shoots.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous writing, I didn’t have much to do but look about, pray, think and write in my journal.

I also began a new project of creating a Gratitude Journal because it was the right time to dig as deeply inside of myself to see what I could be thankful for.

May 20/16 – thankful my cat hovers close by – he’s never seen me hanging over a toilet before making noises.  He sits and watches me.  Comforting.

May 23/16 – thankful for my oasis of a deck, a rippling water fountain, sounds of cars in the distance, bird’s vocal vibrations, planes overhead and tree branches gently bobbing up and down which soothe my questions, fears, concerns – quiets my mind.

One Sunday morning in early June as I was nestled in my blanket cocoon a bible verse appeared on my phone from the radio station Praise 106.5.

From the new testament in Romans 12:12 I was instructed: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer and I wrote, nice to try and keep in mind.

June 5/16 – Grateful.  Want to be…

Outside my fence, in the common area of my complex, Mom and Dad crow became my favorite entertainment day after day while they squawked and brought scraps of whatever it is that crows feed their babies.  The little family were in a condemned tree and I like to think I saved their lives.

After a big wind and a large branch blew down the tree was deemed unsafe.  On tree death day, the hackers came to cut it down. I purposely took a stroll and casually mentioned to a hacker that a bird’s nest was way at the top which I had observed from my back yard.  That halted the rest of the tree coming down until late summer and when the birds would be gone.

Thus, for the next few weeks it became a daily ritual to visit with my bird pals.

In the morning, I’d make a cup of herbal tea though I preferred coffee and Thomas the Cat and I would head outdoors to hang out until my medication wore off or we were bored.

Later in the month, after one full glorious week of feeling good and health was returning, my throat again became raw, my voice disappeared and the painful pressure returned to my face. The wretched cough increased along with my despair. Within the week, it was necessary to begin a new round of antibiotics.

My regular journal entry at the beginning of July states, I cried yesterday.  I cried today.  My goal is to get through this day.

I read in my bible, Proverbs 19:16-29:  Many are the plans in a ‘wo’/man’s heart but it is the Lords purpose that prevails.  The journal answers back…What is your purpose in my life – I sure don’t get it.

A couple more weeks passed and I became well enough to go beyond my deck, take short walks, drive my car and venture off to various public locations where I tried to avoid any potential germs from stalking me.

I was returning to my healthy normal…or so I thought.

 

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Infectious Bacteria Stalkers-My Summer Saga

Five

On Saturday my body yielded to illness and to the medication which opened my airways, in order to prevent any potential closing of my vocal cords.

I curled into a ball of misery in my bed.

Not only was I going to miss my next day art event, I recognized the upcoming trip to Whistler Mountain in a few days with hubby wasn’t going to happen either.  We cancelled.

On the Friday previous I’d gone for my Mammogram.  On Monday the clinic called and I was asked to come in again the next morning for more tests.  That information shoots up the blood pressure a tad and wild visions of the worst case scenario occupied my thoughts while I coughed, tried to control a fever and continued to drip from both my nose and eyes.

Monday morning arrived and I dragged myself off to the appointment for more x-ray exposure, being pulled and stretched and poked, then lying around waiting and sent home to wait some more for a doctors report.

So, what does hubby decide to do when he realizes a 4 day vacation is ruined because his co-vacationer is  sick.  He goes back to work.

No-one wants to know the variation of conversations between us that were produced by that one decision.  It made absolute sense to him and months later it still does not to me.

He did text me on occasion and even called a few times during his next several work-days to see how I was doing.  I never replied. I think he may have even popped in to see me.  He says he did.

Perhaps I was too delusional with medication and fever and too busy emptying tissues boxes to notice what went on around me.  I was consumed with the time waiting for more pain pills for the fire in my throat and the developing tear in my chest each time I coughed.  And, with each cough my cheek bones felt as though they may explode.

On Thursday morning I arrived in my doc’s office who thought I may have Pneumonia and off I went for x-rays. More x-rays.

As I sat in my little cubicle in my blue or yellow gown I had difficulty breathing while trying to have polite and quiet coughs. With whispers of a voice I explained my situation to the curious lab person who had asked why I was there.

Using the walls as support I managed to do as I was instructed, walk to the test room, stand, sit, raise my arm over my head to hang onto a rail support while a picture was taken, release my grip and with some measure of dignity allow my arm to drop back to my side without fainting and then get back to my little room.

No one touched me or offered to help.

The lab person came by my space and I peeked out.  She stayed long enough to inform me I didn’t have Pneumonia but Sinusitis and I could go home.

Hanging my head for acting so pathetic I managed to dress myself, fully aware that my door was a curtain and that I was barely able to control my groans with every movement.

Thankful for walls and railings both inside the building and out I made my way to my car, drove the million miles home and slunk into my bed.

A couple of hours later my doc called  to let me know I have a sinus infection and Bronchitis and I need more pills.

Hubby has clued in that something might be amiss – the kitty litter box hasn’t been emptied, there are pill containers laying in various places in the house and for days there haven’t been any signs of meal preparation.  Plus, I’m just not getting out of bed.

Care giving skills are learned as glasses of water appear bedside and food bits that are not eaten come and go from the room.  Hubby and Thomas the Cat seem baffled by my continuous  weeping and grunts every time I move and when I manage to open my eyes, there they are perched at the foot of the bed…watching me.

I wonder if they will hire someone to come in and take care of them.

There isn’t much to do in the midst of pain and fever except to pray and I remembered to do that.  I’d committed to pray every day for my son who was in Regina for six months training to become an RCMP.  I threw in a few desperate comments for myself too that an instant healing would be greatly appreciated.

I also wrote lengthy ramblings in my journal – with all the pills going into me it is the only way I remembered my summer saga. A week later and two doc visits down, I find out a follow-up Mammogram will need to be done in six months so I promptly sigh and file the information for another time.

Still no voice, but also no fever so I believed some good health may eventually return.  If only I didn’t have to hug myself so tight every time a cough tore itself through my body.

Another week passes with yet another doc trip and it’s been discovered that on my second trip to the emergency ward, that I’ve not even mentioned, my latest x-rays from there reveal a fractured rib.  On that particular visit the friendly emergency doc, referring to my lack of voice and nothing about my ribs, that I should consider the idea of Acid Reflux, sending me home with yet another prescription.

However, in my hand I also held a paper for magic pills that fogged my brain and dulled my pain.

Ah, I understood now, why all these special pills were being taken with such regularity – my simple Sinusitis, turned nearly full face Sinus Infection and Bronchitis, had been topped off with coughing myself into fracturing my own ribs.

By then I suspected the same on the other side too but didn’t even bother to ask for another set of x-rays.

And, the plugged ear which began the whole adventure weeks before was still the same.

Please return for the continuation and hopefully the last two or maybe three entries of ‘my summer saga’

 

 

 

 

 

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