Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Friday, May 26, 2017

The knee bone is connected to the stomach bone is connected to the ....!

I think I am due for a Rant!!  

Exactly one week ago I awoke with a left knee that was talking to me.  

And by 'talking' I mean yelling.  

Both knees talk to me and have done so for years.  You know what I mean - popping and clicking and sometimes little pains.  But yelling - that is a very different kind of talk.  I looked up a blog post that I did on my left knee (Yep!  Only the best bloggers do blog posts on their left knee.  Ha!) and it was November 2013.  That was the last time my left knee did any yelling.  I had ignore the yelling for quite sometime in 2013 before I was forced to seek medical help.  

And by 'help' I mean switching one problem for another.

During the 2013 knee episode I saw my general doc and he sent me to an ortho doc and then I got handed off to physical therapist and eventually the knee pain resolved - after approximately 4 months - and lots and lots of Advil.

And by 'resolved' I mean back to only talking ... not yelling.

Talking I can live with.  But now my stomach was talking (ok, yelling) at me because Advil is hard on the GI system.  So the saga of the cranky knee continued through a visit to a gastroenterology who did an EGD (tube with a camera down the throat) to take a look around.  It was simple reflux that was caused by the Advil.  So I was put on a high end reflux drug that after about 4 months I stopped because ... wait for it ... it was adding to my leg cramp problem.  (Jeez!!)  It took a few years but just recently I got the reflux manageable with over the counter drugs and life style changes. 

So now three and half years later - that left knee is yelling at me again.  AGAIN!!!

I am not waiting another two months for it to go away before seeking medical help to resolve this issue.

And by 'help' and 'resolved' I mean going to a rheumatologist who is better trained to treat possible arthritic conditions and management without the treatment taking out another organ system. 

So how many of you have problem knees?
And what do you do for them?
And is it fair that my expiration dates are various body parts 
are starting to come due??

Rant over.  Back to being a rational human being.  (ok, 'rational' is a bit of a stretch 😊.)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mom

Left to right: mom, my sister and me!
On this Mother's Day my mind continues to float back time and again to my mom and the last years of her life that we spent together.  They were the hardest years of my life, but they were also the closest years to my mom.  She needed so much help during that time and I gave my heart and soul to her needs.  I don't regret a minute of it - the hard, frustrating, and sad minutes, hours days - no regrets.  I wish I could  have her back for just one hour now to tell her how much I appreciated everything she did for me during the years she was raising her two girls with an alcoholic husband!  The years I gave to her at the end of her life do not begin to equal the years she gave me during the beginning of my life.

Readers who have been with me for a long time may remember a long series of posts I did on my mom.  They are found under the label of Through My Caregiver Eyes (just click on that title under Labels on the right side of my blog to bring them up sequentially)  I started that series in August 2010 and my final post for it was in January 2015 - she died in December 2014.   This series documents our time together and my growth into the caregiver role.  If you or anyone you know are heading into care giving for an elderly person, reading about another's experiences can be helpful.  Care giving can be a very isolating and sad struggle.  It helps to know your story is not so much different than many others.

If you are lucky enough to still have your mom, love, care and appreciate her - not just on this day - but on all days.  Some day in the future, she may not be around.

Happy Mother's Day
 to my readers who are themselves mothers!
It is the most rewarding experience of your life!



Monday, May 1, 2017

The Living Room / dining room / den - Condo Tour

 A series of posts on my new home.
As I go about my day in this new place I call home
I frequently think ...
"I like this (xyz) so much better."
Maybe I should write about it."

I held up writing this last post because I was waiting on the instillation of 2 light/fan combos for the dining area and the den.  Since moving into the condo 8 months ago, we have replaced many old and outdated items.  These light/fan combos are the last of those changes to be done this year.  The light fixtures that came with the condo were pretty ugly to my taste - and, more importantly, we wanted ceiling fans so we could reduce our need for air conditioning.  Electric can be expensive.

As you enter the condo - the dining area is to the right, living room to the left,
and den straight ahead and center.
Entering the condo you walk into a small foyer space with a view of the dining room, living room and den.  This open design works well in a condo with reduced square footage.  One space simply flows into another without the barrier of walls. So many condos had less square footage than this condo AND lots of walls. Walls shrink the feel of the space and place limitations on its use.

Dining area - kitchen to the left, main entrance
to the right just out of sight.


A good example of limitations is our dinning room table.  It is a bit large and can be made larger by another 4 feet of extensions.  In the townhouse we always angled the table from one corner of the room to an opposite corner when the extensions were used.  It worked mostly but was tight for guests getting around the table. I always said ... if we could just push the walls out another 18 inches it would be perfect!  Ha!

In the condo the dining table fully extended spreads into the adjacent living room space a bit and can be moved around easily by guests.  No need to wish the walls out another 18 inches because there are no walls.






The dining room also displays 3 leather game boards we dearly love.  During more affluent years - when we were both working and had good salaries, we frequented craft shows.  These boards were several of the many items we purchased.  And we still love them as much as we did when purchased.  Still loving something after years of ownership is the sign of a good purchase.



The living room space is defined mostly by the arrangement of furniture.

In the fore ground is the back of a couch that backs up to the den.
It has a cover over it - pets, you know!!
Our living room chairs are placed fairly close to the TV so my husband has the best chance of seeing the TV.  You can tell which is my chair.  It is to the left, has a hand-spun hand-woven shawl over the back - which my dear cousin made and which is used almost every single winter morning.

A hand spun and hand woven shawl that I have
near me or on me all the time!

My chair, where I am sitting right now!!

My chair is surrounded by yarn - and it is located next to a display cabinet that houses even more yarn and my legos.  My little space.



The den has a more defined area because there are more walls but one corner is open with no door.  It makes for a very open feel when entering the condo.  I love love love that there are no sliding glass doors in this condo. After 40+ years of sliding glass doors, I was ready to return to a standard door for the deck.


So that concludes the tour of my condo.  We have made a number of changes and adjustments, and as a result, I have become at ease living here.  This condo was the first place in 45 years that wasn't new when we moved in.  That bothered me some.  But it had been maintained for 12 years by people with similar tastes. Now with the changes I made, this space is more mine.  Glad to finally feel like it reflects me - rather than someone else.






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting there.

I guess it had to happen sometime ... I am finally settling into this condo.

After 8 months, I feel like I am now living in my own space ... not someone else's place.  Oh, we have been settled physically for several months but furniture placement and pictures on the wall do not dictate how one feels about where you live.  The condo may never achieve the level of 'home' for me, but it has gained the status of 'mine.'

We upgraded and replaced a number of items to make it more comfortable and functional.  And our life experiences are starting to imprint on the 'condo ether' in a way that makes this more than just a place to warehouse my stuff.

Over time I have met a number of wonderful neighbors.  They are all welcoming.   In fact several weeks ago one neighbor was out taking measurements of the dumpster space for an upcoming project and I was out walking my grand dog.  He asked for my assistance holding the tape measure.  I was happy to help.  We got to talking.  One thing let to another, and this month I attended my first board meeting (annual owner meeting) of the community and was voted onto the board of directors.  Yikes!

Having served in this capacity previously, I know the frustrations and satisfactions of this position.  This board is friendly, welcoming and totally engaged in making this community a good place to live.   All are original owners (12+ years), and have a wealth of knowledge regarding the community.  I am grateful I was encouraged to run for a position.  I am honored to be elected.

All and all I think my personal adjustment is progressing.  I still feel a small sadness when I think for any amount of time on my old neighborhood and townhome.  Guess that will always be so.  But I am growing in a different direction now ... and looking forward.  No more checking my rear view mirror.  That view has changed greatly and is forever just a memory.

Next post - last entry of the condo tour!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A small life so dearly loved ...



Today we thought this dear little soul was going to pass from our lives.  He didn't.  We know his time is very near.  But today is not the day.

This beautiful face belongs to our cat, Max.  He is 11 years old and for 8 of those years he has lived with degenerative kidney disease.  Obviously being diagnosed at age 3 with this condition is not a good thing.  We sincerely thought he would only have a few years left.  We never thought he will live another 8 years.

During that time we fed him special prescription food and treated him with subq fluids every other day.  And every year we got his blood checked and he was always abnormal but stable.  In fact, during these 8 years the vets ALWAYS remarked on how well he was doing.  Typically degenerative kidney disease in a cat progresses a very fast toward the end of life.

About a month ago he started to lose weight.  A vet visit revealed that his previously stable lab values were starting to fall.  It was a warning alarm for us.  His unusual robust appetite began to fail.  Normally he would eat anything all the time.  Now he eats  infrequently and only small amounts.

Two days ago we noticed a total disinterest in eating.  He had gotten more thin.  We thought we had reached the time that all loving and responsible owners reach at some point - help your loved pet out of life peacefully.  We made the appointment for this morning.

Late last night he decided to eat a little.  And he was out and about this morning looking for more.  He did not seem in pain.  We cancelled the appointment.  I guess he still has a handful of kidney cells that are working.

Tomorrow we may face this same decision, or maybe next week - but today he is sleeping peacefully in my chair and I'll take every single minute we have left.

Today is not the day.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Never say never! The Y.

No matter what the topic ... never say never!

This past January I joined a gym!  In the past I firmly believed that I would never ever get involved in a gym membership.  The reasons are many:  dislike contracts, no interest in body building,  can't stand the gym culture that glamorizes the perfect body, not sure I would stay committed.  Nope! Not for me.

And yet ... this year I joined a gym.

After the effort of moving had died down, I noticed that my personal strength was dying down too. Condo living definitely takes less effort - 55+ communities are specifically designed to make life  easier.  Great and yet, not great!  'Easier' doesn't keep you strong.  And walking alone was not going to be enough.


About 10 minutes from the condo is a new Y.  I was curious.

In January I took a tour of this facility!  I found only good things there.  First off, no contracts, just a monthly fee.  Because it was a new year the 'joining fee' was waived.  The offerings were many:  swimming, basketball courts, cycling studios, martial arts classes, flexibility sessions, yoga studios, rock/wall climbing, circuit weight training - something for every interest.  The population, however,  was the biggest draw for me: all ages, abilities, and body types.  Many seniors, people with disabilities, and family groups.  I saw only a few serious body builders.  The rest were regular folks looking to improve health.  I felt totally comfortable.  I joined.

My own focus is strength training.  I need to maintain the muscles I have - and maybe build them back to a normal level.  I began with circuit weights - the machines.


Easy equipment to use.


Thankfully all the cardio equipment has TV.


The center provided 4 free sessions with a personal trainer to orient you to the equipment and to set the base line.  They set my base line fairly low at my request.  I needed only one orientation session - the equipment is easy to understand, adjust and use.  I never feel sore afterwards - only tired.


The center offers various cardio equipment - treadmills, stationery bikes, recumbent bikes, step climbers, etc.  Although my preference is to walk outside, my neighborhood is not walker friendly.  Having use of this cardio equipment has been helpful.





It has been 3 1/2 months since I started this membership and I can feel a difference already.  I have increased my lift weight slowly.  Small but steady progress.  I sometimes struggled with finding the time to go, but I always feel great after the workout.

Guess this is a successful start.  Best outcome??  Still doing this in April 2018!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

70

Today I am 70.

70!


A big number.

Of course, I can't help wondering how big that number will finally be.  Guess everyone thinks about how long they will live at some time or another.

For some reason my 60s weren't a big deal.  I seldom thought about just how long I would live while marking each birthday anniversary in my 60s.  Maybe the 60s were a big deal for our parents or grandparents, but with the state of medical care and improved longevity today, the 60s were just a bump in the road for me.  Looking at my family history - my mother and her relatives lived well into their 80s - some into their 90s.  I am my mother's clone.  But there are no guarantees in this aging path for any of us.

No matter how I wrap my mind around it, 70 is different.  To my ear, it sounds like I am talking about someone else's age - not mine.

It is right about here ... when well meaning people (usually younger people) whip out the common platitudes about aging.  You know the ones ... age is just a number, you are only as old as you feel, age brings wisdom, you should be grateful for the years you have, etc. etc. etc.

Make no mistake!  I am grateful for this 70th birthday.  Really!  Many people never get the opportunity to age - a few of those unfortunate folks were my peers.  So my feelings on this day are are filled with gratitude.

Regardless ...  sweep all those typical feel good statements aside ... 70 is a big number to me.  I really really want it to sound like a smaller number.

My guess is when I am facing 85 ... 70 will sound like a smaller number!  Ha!

I noticed recently on CNN that the oldest person in the world just died at the age of 117.  How anyone knows out of the billions of people on this earth exactly who is "the oldest person in the world" - is beyond me.  But 117 years of age is a HUGE number.  I wouldn't aspire to that age - unless I could be sure to be mobile and of sound mind.  Since I am not sure I am of sound mind now (ha!), I guess that knocks me out of the running to beat her record.  I bet this lady would think that 70 is a small number.  But 117 years of age would be too big a number for me.  My world presently would look entirely different at the age of 117.  For example: the age of my oldest child if he survived would be 91 years of age.  Gads!!  Worse yet - if he didn't survive and I had to live through that loss.  No, no, no.  I most certainly do not want to live that long.

That leaves me wondering which advanced age number would satisfy a desire to have lived a full life.  I couldn't begin to guess that number.  But I can confidently say that 70 is too young to say "I have lived a full life."
Hmm ... 70 .... too young.  I think I can live with that!!😛

Happy Birthday to me.