Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fall is Coming!

I am so excited about Fall coming. The crisp morning air tells me it is almost here. MY season. I already have plans to go to Amish country (Lancaster) with my sister-in-law sometime soon. The local apple orchards will be opening with their fresh pressed cider and the new crisp apples will soon be ready for picking. Ironic because my first tomato just ripened. I still have about twenty more on the vine that I will probably pick and let ripen indoors.

 Today I will be meeting a new therapist. I am hoping I will really like her and find her helpful. There is just so much going on in my family of origin and I would like an outsider's take on it all. Rob is very supportive and so are two of my brothers and an aunt and a cousin but other than that it's been difficult. I  have many neighbors who I talk with. Right now with the economy being so bad the three I talk with the most are struggling badly and one will be losing her home soon. I don't want to weigh them down with my issues.

Tomorrow is our tenth anniversary. It seems like just yesterday that we were getting married. I was so full of hope about our future. It was just two years later I was having my first open heart surgery, followed six months later by a breast cancer which took two more surgeries. Since then it seems that I have been struggling with one health issue or another. On the upside, I am still here. I plan to stay as long as I can, providing I can have some quality of life. Right now I can take care of myself. Rob has to help me do so much around the house. I wish I could afford an ocassional cleaning lady but that money would have to come from somewhere else. I can manage to do the laundry as I have both machines on the same floor as my bedroom. I can pick up a few groceries on my own but I need someone if I buy anything heavy. But I's about Rob tomorrow. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am to have Rob? Words are not enough to convey how I feel. When you are faced with your death you take a long, hard look at the people who have been a part of your life. I had so many friends years very many. After the first heart surgery I realized that most of them wanted to be around for the good times but not the bad. My friend Laura visited me a lot in the hospital. I will never forget her kindness and over the years have tried to return it several times. One other friend came once. When I got pneumonia my one neighbor came. As I got sicker and times got rougher friends vanished. Only one friend was there when my father died. My point is this: friends come and go. While we like to use terms such as "best friends" and we can love someone dearly as a friend, you really can't count on them. People are concerned with their needs and their lives. Rob is the person who has always been there for me. Through thick and thin, with laugher and tears. I realize how truly I am blessed. I wish everyone had a Rob (or female equivalent) in their lives. As humans we need others. My illness has also taught me to be caring to others. Many of you will never walk in my shoes. I would not wish this on anyone. I can only take the lessons I have learned and make them positives if anything good is to come out of my illness. I met an 83 year old woman the other day. She told me that she had been "as healthy as a horse" her entire life until two years ago. She was thin and played tennis everyday, up to two hours at a time. She jogged and was full of energy. All of a sudden she got heart valve disease and now is on oxygen 24/7. She needs the two valves replaced that I had done. She told me that she never thought anything like that could happen to her. She kept saying that at least she was healthy for 80 years and didn't know how at my age I could cope. I told her one reason I have been able to cope has been Rob. (My son has also been there for me, visiting me in the hospital and coming to Philadelphia. He calls everyday to see if I need help of any kind and tries to do anything he can to help.)

As I look back on my life I am happy not sad. I am grateful. I have beaten all the odds for survival. My doctors marvel at how much I have endured yet survived. I have lived more in my fifty plus years than many people do who live a boring lifetime. I have loved and been loved. The people who backed away for whatever reasons missed out. The friends I still have continue to support me and I am grateful for them too. Throughout life most people we meet we will be acquaintances. True friends are rare.

Happy tenth anniversary Rob. I don't think I would still be here if not for you. Your love inspires me, your care keeps me going and your faith in me sustains me. You're much more than I could have dared to hope for. Because of you, I feel truly blessed. I hope the best is yet to be.

Friday, August 24, 2012

This and That

The insomnia is really wearing me down. Many nights I get four hours sleep or less. Last night I could fall asleep but couldn't stay asleep. It was a gorgeous beach day but I couldn't have made it. It's been a hard week for me. Whenever I went anywhere I was plagued with the breathlessness.

One day I took the new car to the dealer. The Sirius radio works intermittenly and has for months. Each time we took it there they blew us off because it worked by the time they checked it out. This time we had no radio the day before and I insisted they keep looking. They sent me home in a rental car after I was there three hours and then called me a few hours later telling me to come pick it up. They told me the radio is a computer and is malfunctioning. Many other people have the same problem and Nissan is working on a fix. When they find it, I will be called back for the repair. In the meantime we paid for the radio service and there is no refund. It's so disappointing to be having a problem with a new vehicle. At least it's not a problem that interferes with us using the car. When the satellite radio is out, we can still listen to FM or play CDs which I find puzzling.

Many of  my neighbors have had great vacations. One was in Florida (all expenses paid for her and her children), came back and a week later enjoyed a vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C. I am happy for her but she is someone who often complains to me about how hard she has it. I haven't been away for one night in years. My mother won't allow us to use her vacation home in upstate New York unless we take her and her dog with us. That would not be a vacation and I would have to arrange for oxygen to be there which is very involved. There is no money for a real vacation. At times I get very frustrated. I am home so much of the time. Often I am lonely and bored. I have begun reading again and am almost done with the second book in The Hunger Games series. We saw the movie the other night which I found very disappointing as compared to reading the book. I also finished Fifty Shades of Grey. I wish I had a hobby I could do at home. I know it will be better when it's not so hot outside and I can enjoy my patio. I have grown tomatoes this year but couldn't take on anything more.

I have an appointment to see a therapist next week. I think I need a fresh perspective on many things.
I still struggle at times wondering where my "friends" are. Some have been great but others have vanished. There have just been way too many changes in the past few years. It's a lot to deal with. I'm hoping the therapist can help me find ways to do so.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Swallowing the Bitter Pill

My friend Roz used to say sometimes we had to "swallow the bitter pill." I hated that expression and when she first mentioned this about thirty years ago I thought it was absurd. Now, in  my middle years, I get it. Last Saturday I did just that. Rob and I went to Popeye's for chicken. It's about a 45 minute ride and I know my mother loves it. Our neighbor gave us a coupon to buy 11 pieces and get 11 more FREE. I could not resist. I took a box of about 7 pieces to her along with biscuits I bought her. We pulled up and Rob took it to her door. She never even came out to the car to say hello but did call later and thank me. She acts like nothing ever happened. I have just accepted that at eighty years old she may be having some sort of dimentia. I am not calling her a lot as I once did, or going over. I just don't want anything to happen to one of us with the other not even speaking. My father was the generous of my parents. He was tough but when the chips were down he was in your corner, at least most of the time. My mother only thinks about herself. When I recently told her about a cousin I have (the daughter of someone she feels very close to) who was in dire straights and needed some help she lectured me that I could not afford to help anyone. I just let her go on and sent money she needs never know about. Since my father's death she has made very expensive changes to her house which include redoing bathrooms, new sidewalks etc. During this time I was struggling but there was never an offer of help. Being a mother myself, I find this hard to understand. My mother has always been this way, this isn't something new. I have received countless lectures from "friends' over the years that I need to accept her as she is. Easy for them to say. I think I am more accepting now than I have been but it still hurts when you see your parent has little concern for you.

I learned this week that I will be getting an extension on a third party disability claim. It was bittersweet. The fact that I qualify for it means that this company (who rarely approves this) has a medical team who feels there is 0 chance of recovery and no possibility that I can ever work again, in any capacity. The good news is that for another year I can pay my bills and have a bit more than I need. I am going September 6th for a nuclear stress test. I am nervous about it. That will hopefully give the doctor some answers. My EKG has big changes to it and that is normally not good. He thinks he knows what happened (I have for the first time, excluding post surgical pain, had chest pains.) We shall see.

I am trying to make the  most of each day. I have been battling insomnia but just had two consecutive nights of sleep so am encouraged about that. Yesterday we finished the living room paint job (okay I was just an assistant and couldn't do any real painting) and went to Longhorn for lunch to celebrate. Our living room is now thoroughly clean. I am getting a jump on Fall cleaning which never happened last year. My kitchen had a good cleaning too. My closets have been half emptied with Goodwill receiving many donations. All my clothes will now fit in one closet. Not that I bought so much but over the years it accumulated and I rarely got rid of things. For the winter I will need some dress slacks and maybe a blazer. I kept just one in a smaller size from my old stuff. I need to go shopping. Right now it seems like the stores are all having summer clearance. I did pick up some capri jeans and a few tops at TJ Maxx. I might splurge for a winter coat. Not sure yet. The anticipation is half the fun. I did splurge at the Coach Factory Outlet and get myself a black leather bag for a deal. It was $139 with a 30% off coupon. My cousin already sent me the little "pony" for it. For those who don't know that's a little silk tie that can be tied in various ways. I really needed a good bag and my winter boots are black so it will be perfect. Hurry Fall!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sorting Things Out

This week I began sorting through my clothes. I had many professional outfits, suits, dress slacks, blouses, blazers that I no longer needed. I remembered hearing about an organization called Dress for Success who provide women trying to enter the job force with an interview suit. If the woman gets hired, they will give her four more outfits. They even collect and provide accessories such as scarves and jewelery. I was so thrilled to donate about six suits, six blazers, eight pairs of dress slacks, two cardigans, hosiery and an almost brand new pair of nice shoes. My friend went with me and she made about four trips to the car to carry it all in. As I was leaving I got a bit overwhelmed. I didn't expect to have to stop working for a few more years. It's been a difficult adjustment for me. I miss my coworkers and the income I had become used to. I also miss my health insurance from my employer which covered much more. My friend Monica was so great and supportive. We went out to lunch and had a nice visit. When we were leaving the restaurant  my friend just walked up and gave me the biggest hug and told me how much my friendship meant to her and how much she loved me. That was the best medicine ever. I told her that when I thought about her the other day she had always been there in the hard times for me. I came home feeling so much better. I dropped off some other things that were not dress clothes and some household items to Goodwill on the way home.

Today I got up and decided to go to the factory outlets. I called my sister-in-law who was excited to go with me. She loves to shop. We bought some Christmas gifts (great bargains) at the Coach and Yankee Candle stores and then went for lunch. We chatted and laughed and again I was really enjoying myself. My sister-in-law was injured in a car accident and has had numerous surgeries on her one leg. It will never be what it once was and she has pain in it, a lot. She understands what it is like to have to stop working years before you planned to. She knows the frustration of having surgery and then learning that the situation remained unchanged. Still, we manage to laugh and have some fun. She's a lovely person.

On Monday I saw my NJ cardiologist. It was a disappointing visit. There are some new problems and I will need another stress test before we know what has happened. In the meantime I am trying to focus on the positive. Dr. A told me he heard more fluid in/around the lungs. Ugh. One day at at time.

Tonight we had freshly grown NJ corn on the cob and cantaloupe I bought at a farm market earlier today. I have a watermelon, zucchini, scallions and Romaine lettuce I also purchased. The joys of summer.