Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grapefruit

Monday, I ate a grapefruit.

I know that this does not sound all that remarkable, but this was the first one I had had in 10 years or more. Citrus is one of the first things to go when you have acid reflux disease. But, now that I have had my surgery, I am able to eat much more normally.

I found my old serrated spoon, cut that pink grapefruit in half, sprinkled it with just a pinch of sugar, and dug in. To say it was heavenly is an understatement. You can keep the oranges and the tangerines. I adore grapefruit.

Because of some reactions with my daily medications, I have been told to keep my grapefruit consumption to one whole grapefruit per week. I can live with that.

I ate half on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. I get to look forward to eating another one next week.

My mouth is watering already!

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

OK, I have been tagged 3 times to do this, so I figure I am going to give it a whirl!

1. I was born in Baton Rouge during the LSU football season of 1959, the year of Billy Cannon's big run back against Ole Miss.

2. I grew up on classical music and show tunes and did not listen to pop radio until I was in college.

3. I briefly dated a Druid one summer while working at an amusement park.

4. I got an "F" on my painting
for art class in 8th grade.

5. My original ambition was to be a fashion designer.

6. I played clarinet for 9 years.

7. I was so thin in high school that I was the butt of "skinny jokes."

8. I once owned a dress that was an inch shorter than my hair.

9. My license plate reads: I SING

10. I have sung the National Anthem for the Mississippi Braves baseball team.

11. I have a large collection of Dreamsicle angels.

12. I spent 6 years in therapy.

13. Aside from communion wine, I have only had one alcoholic beverage in my life. A strawberry daquiri when I turned 21.

14. I have made arrangements to donate my body to the University of Mississippi Medical Center when I die.

15. I have been married once, to the same man, for 25 years.

16. I am totally addicted to Scrabble.

17. My favorite piece of music is "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens.

18. My favorite sport is figure skating and my favorite skater of all time is Michelle Kwan.

19. I still have part of my comic book collection.

20. I have had the same BFF for almost 27 years.

21. I cannot work a Sudoku.

22. I have the same birthday as a famous tenor.

23. I have 2 left feet, but I am going to be able to dance in Heaven.

24. I don't have binocular vision.

25. I believe in angels.






Sunday, January 25, 2009

MIL

MIL is shorthand for mother-in-law. As of today, mine has been gone for 5 years. It does not seem like it has been that long.

Married at 16, mother-in-law was a pretty, vivacious girl. No one really knows when the specter of mental illness began to rear its head, but within a few years time, mother-in-law was diagnosed as "manic-depressive." Treatment for this illness in the fifties was not particularly effective. The available drugs caused terrible side effects. Electro-convulsive therapy helped somewhat, but the benefits were short lived.

My husband remembers being shipped off with his 4 siblings to his grandmother's house when his mother would have to go to the State Hospital at Whitfield for treatment.

When I married my husband, I thought that mother-in-law liked me OK. I did not find out till we had been married almost 20 years that she did not. I know some of it was her illness talking, and some of it was the fact that I helped father-in-law move her to a retirement apartment when her behavior made it too dangerous for them to remain under the same roof. My husband became her caregiver and this caused stress in our marriage as well.

I wish I could say that I miss mother-in-law. I felt sorry for her. I tried to be kind to her. I loved her as much as she was capable of being loved.

But, I don't miss her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Denny P.


Today, I am having lunch with Denny P. Denny is a (semi) retired Episcopal priest who came into my life during a local theatre production of Camelot. He played Merlin to my Nimue and we bonded during this experience.

After the play (mercifully) ended, we stayed in touch. I would go over to his church and sing for special occasions or drop by his office to say hello.

The real test of friendship came after my mom died. On December 26th, it was Denny who appeared at my door with open arms. And he was one of the people who stuck with me during the difficult months afterward, when I plunged into a depression so deep that I thought I would never come out of it.

Denny is what I call a "hoot." Despite being a member of the clergy, he does not take himself too seriously. He is a champion hugger. He loves good food and good times. He loves me.

And I love him.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Retirement 2

I am feeling less panicky today about the retirement issue. I know others who have had incomes cut involuntarily due to job loss or other circumstances. I can't imagine what it is like to be in that situation. We have been blessed by steadiness of income and my husband's determination to pay things off early.

I admit that I am spoiled when it comes to wanting to be able to continue to travel occasionally. To be able to buy books (our library is small, local, and does not have a particularly good selection). I want to be able to continue to buy the things I need to make and send the cards I send to my shut in and nursing home friends each holiday. I want to be able to do what I can in the way of enrichment for my young neighbor. I don't want to have to hesitate to be able to take a friend to the doctor in Jackson. I want to be able to continue to be able to get my all medications and be able to take them as prescribed.

I think of returning to work myself and then I have a day like today with crushing fatigue, multiple falls, and blurred vision.

Things will work out. I have faith.

BIBO.

Retirement

My husband is in the process of trying to retire from his job as a nuclear plant operator. He has been there 25 years. The plant has been good to us, allowing us to enjoy a level of financial stability that few people have nowadays.

But, at almost 55, the stress of rotating shifts, constantly changing rules, having to be on perpetual alert for emergencies, and the physicality of the job are getting to be too much. When my usually imperturbable husband gets this stressed, it is time for a change.

He will need a part time job for a while to help make ends meet until we can get into the 401K, in hopes that it will have recovered somewhat in the next 4 years or so.

I admit that my first emotional response to his retirement is sheer panic. I grew up in tight financial times. I was the quintessential "starving student" in college. And the first few years of marriage were very lean times. I dread the thought of having to constantly worry about money at this stage of my life.

But, we have always managed and I know that we will manage now.

I just have to remember to breathe.




Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Today

No, I didn't really refuse to answer the phone. I have just had time to get my mind wrapped around a few things. The problem seems to be absorption. Once absorbed, things get much more manageable.

I am going to Nashville with my best friend. I have been wanting to record some old standards for a long time and I want to get something on CD now that my voice is recovering. Part of me is terrified that I am going to lose my voice again. I also just need some chill time with my friend. My husband is going to help with expenses as my Valentine's gift.

If I end up taking my friend to Jackson on Friday, we are going to leave at 7 instead of 6 AM. She will have to stay a bit longer, but it will be more manageable for me. This friendship is not a one-way street. She was my only local friend who came to be with my husband while I was in surgery and made calls to family and long distance friends letting them know I was OK. I do what I do for her out of love and hope that someone would be there for me if I were thousands of miles from my only family. She is also of an age where most of her other friends have seriously ill parents and/or spouses to care for.

Sam and I had a lovely watercolor lesson. She did not paint much, but I could tell that she was processing the information to be put into practice on her own. I was really jazzed when my peach actually LOOKED like a peach by the end of the lesson!

Balance. It's all about balance.

So why is it so hard to achieve?




Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Circles

Going around in circles. My mind, that is.

Today started out really nice. Had a lovely chat with a good friend. Ate soup and cornbread with my father-in-law. Made some Valentine cards for my nursing home friends.

Then I got a call from my best friend. She wants me to go to Nashville with her over Valentine's Day weekend. Now, going to Nashville is one of my favorite things in the world to do, but money is a bit tight now. However, this is a hard holiday for a single person and bless her, she has run all over the country with me. I told her I would think about it and get back to her.

I got a text from Sam wanting to bring her friend to the watercolor classes we are going to be taking starting tomorrow. That was fine, I told her, but her friend would have to buy her own supplies. Friend's dad said he could not do that. Brief pouting ensued, but I promised to take her next week if her dad agrees to get her start up materials.

Next call was from a friend who is worried about our mutual friend. Mutual friend is taking an emotional nosedive and talking of death. This is not good. She is scheduled for ECT on Friday. My brother usually will take her on his way to work in Jackson and then I pick her up. But, when I called my bro, he told me his car is not doing well and HE may be taking it to the shop on Friday. Other worried friend is staying at the hospital with her young grandson. Friend has thus far not been able to find anyone else to take her. Nobody goes to Jackson at 6 AM except my brother.

Add normal, annoying details like being tired, trying to finish a project for my sister, and my body not cooperating with me and I admit I am more than a bit stressed.

I can keep my OCD under fair control until a day like this. But when I get this many thoughts in my mind, they whirl around like peas in a blender.

Tomorrow, I am not answering the phone.




Sunday, January 11, 2009

Football

Well, both Mannings are out for the season now, so I have no one to root for. All I can do is root against the teams I really dislike.

I got spoiled having Peyton and Eli in the Super Bowl these past two years. It was nice to watch the Super Bowl and have teams playing that I desperately wanted to win.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fatigue

Mornings like this drive me crazy. Despite a lovely 8 hour sleep, I woke up tired. So tired that just the thought of taking a shower seems to be more than I can manage.
An MG'er, Beverly J. Nason, (affectionately known as Grammy Bev) described it perfectly in this little essay.

On a good morning, we awake with a dollars worth of invisible nickels

in our pocket, or perhaps we find them after our

first dose of Mestinon.

We must decide how to spend this precious supply.

Shall we shower, dress, make the bed, have breakfast, go to a job,

and recklessly spend them all at once?

Perhaps, we should just use twenty-five cents,

and dress without the shower or shave, leave the bed for later,

and spend five to fifteen cents for breakfast.

We alone may judge from our recent experience.

Having decided, we act, and our precious deposits is made into an

invisible slot, filled with invisible batteries.

These batteries kick in slowly and we drain their reserve.

When it is close to gone, we force ourselves to rest.

As the day progresses, we decided to do a small chore.

The shave, shower, shampoo? Five more nickels perhaps?

The bed? One nickel perhaps. Cleaning house? Going to work?

How many nickels will we have to spend today?

For many of us, we can barely afford one nickel at a time, today.

If we have the luxury of time for a rest period or a nap,

We might awaken with a sudden new supply of nickels in our pocket.

Probably our next dose of Mestinon will provide us with a

fresh supply. For others, we may find we've chosen unwisely

and squandered our day's wealth,

Or borrowed from them tomorrow, to do what had to be done,

or simply what we wanted to do to improve our quality of life.

the debt must be repaid, and time in bed will be the price.

We can gamble them all away, or spend them gratefully.

When we awake, morning after morning, with pockets full of nickels,

Such an abundance that we no longer have to count them

We have achieved Myasthenia Gravis remission

May you all have "pocket full of nickels"

Monday, January 05, 2009

Decisions


Do I or don't I? This year I am having a heck of a time deciding whether or not to continue maintaining my Mississippi counseling license and National board certification. To do this requires not only licensure fees, but a minimum amount of malpractice insurance and several hours of continuing education every year. Now that I am not working, it is getting harder and harder to come up with the money it takes to maintain my eligibility to counsel.

I worked very hard to get that license. For three years I drove a 160 mile almost daily round trip from Vicksburg to Monroe, Louisiana to get my counseling degree. My husband did not approve of what I was doing, so I got no support at home during this time. I was also helping care for my eighty-something year old grandmother at the time. Getting my degree was one of the hardest, but most rewarding things I have ever done.

I guess holding on to my licensure is holding on to the hope that a cure might be found for Myasthenia Gravis and that I might be able to go back to work someday.

And I don't know if I am quite ready to give that up.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Advice

I have heard of a quote that says: "Be chary of giving advice. Wise men don't need it, and fools won't heed it."

When I was in counseling school, we were instructed never to give our clients advice. Advice was characterized as using words like "should" and "must" when talking to a client. Such as "You should leave your husband", etc. This kind of language leaves a counselor open to lawsuits, not to mention headaches!

However, one of the functions of a counselor is to help a client look at all options available to him or her. Many clients tend to have a history of feeling helpless in situations and difficulty saying "no." One of my jobs was to remind them that they could, indeed, say no in present situations. This is not "should" language. Rather, it is language that reminds them of their options. You "could" take this path. You don't have to do things you don't feel comfortable with. What are some other ways you can handle this? None of this constitutes "advice" from a legal and ethical counseling standpoint.

Maybe there is a school that helps counselors un-learn counseling techniques.

It could work.






Thursday, January 01, 2009

Curmudgeon

Maybe I need to make a New Year's resolution not to be so much of a curmudgeon. The older I get, the worse I become. By next year there may be no hope for me at all.

I was brought up to believe that men should not wear hats at the dinner table. Ladies, both young and old should at least comb their hair before being taken out to a nice restaurant. That even in a family home, visiting adult children should act like adults and not children. That "inside" voices should be used and that elders should be respected.

I admit it. I am big on manners. I wish I could give them as Christmas gifts. One size fits all, they never go out of style, and they cost very little.

Good manners for everyone.

Works for me!