Monthly Archives: August 2016
It seems like one week I have too much to write about and the next week not enough. I spend one week on the phone making appointments and the next week going to them.
This last week I spent a lot of time on the phone making one appointment. Orion was due for a check-up with the neurosurgeon. This is a complicated appointment because it requires us first to visit radiology for a CT scan and X-rays and then to review them, and whatever ongoing care plan, with the doctor. And – It’s neurosurgery.
It doesn’t really matter which days the doctor is scheduled to do surgery and which days he’s scheduled to be in the office. When something comes up, it’s probably a priority. Of course the hospital doesn’t have an Operating Room dedicated just to head trauma so schedules jiggle all over the place.
Thankfully, I don’t have to orchestrate the whole thing. That’s the job of the doctor’s scheduling secretary. I made the initial appointment by calling her and suggesting which days wouldn’t work for me. Then she called me back and gave me a time, knowing she’d have to confirm it with radiology. She said she’d call me back if there were any changes.
Three times this week she called me back.
I know people’s appointments have moved for us plenty of times in the last 28 years. (Orion’s first neurosurgery was in December of 1988). It’s nice to be the ones who are NOT in a hurry to see the doctor. It’s been years since we’ve been in and these are people we’ve had a relationship with all of Orion’s life.
Everything is hunky-dory. Orion is stable. His scans look almost exactly the same as they did 3 years ago. I don’t look the same of course. The PA didn’t recognize me coming in with Orion until she turned face to face with me to explain the scan. The weight loss really is that dramatic, and she’s never seen me at this weight (although the doctor has). She’s going back to school for her doctorate this year. We’re going to try and squeeze lunch into the scheduling drama the next time we come in.
I also asked the doctor the unspeakable question. What are we going to do when he retires? Thankfully he’s still healthy and able. He’s not planning to retire any time soon. He hopes to continue working well into his 70’s. One of his regular consultants (an infectious disease specialist I have a respectfully contentious relationship with) intends to continue working into his 80’s.
That may seem odd, but for me it’s actually very reassuring. It’s hard to find good doctors and we have been a team on Orion’s behalf for a very long time. When you are doing something you love, something that’s challenging, it keeps you vital. Over the years I’ve seen first hand how devoted this doctor is to his work and his patients. Nice to know it hasn’t gotten old.
I spent several days last week out sick with a summer cold. You know the kind you tell yourself is allergies until you can no longer deny you’re miserable through and through. As I’ve just past the two-year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, this was another opportunity to really notice how much has changed.
For starters, yes I was sick enough to not go to Gilda’s club. People dealing with cancer are often immune suppressed. They didn’t need to be exposed to whatever I was carrying. The decision to “tough it out” or not was a no brainer. What that meant is that I was taking care of myself from the beginning of the cold, rather than waiting until it totally knocked me on my ass to acknowledge it.
Then there’s the odd thing that happens with bariatric surgery and stomach flu. My whole body felt like I should be laying on the bathroom floor. But I wasn’t. In fact I never got that kind of sick. The physiology just doesn’t work that way anymore. What an odd feeling, especially for someone whose history is that once I got started I didn’t stop. No sore abdominal muscles. No cramps. No dehydration. No shear exhaustion from all that effort. More energy to apply to feeling better.
And most importantly there are all the things I did manage to get done last week. Orion got dressed, bathed, on and off the bus and fed regularly. Time cards got delivered, groceries were bought. I had my allergy shots. Orion had injections as well, and a tune up of his wheelchair and AFO’s. We had lunch and a visit with friends. I found time to do dinner with a friend. I had coffee with another, along with a walk to and tour Gilda’s Club – several blocks down the hill, and back up again.
There was laundry that got done, including bedding from our camping trip. There was a night the power went out, and all the clocks are set back where they belong. There was no “recovering” from our road trip to South Dakota. There is no feeling that I need another week to “catch up”.
Two years ago, last week would have looked like a “super mom” week. It would have taken me almost week to recover from a schedule like that in my “best health”. I couldn’t have imagined doing all that right after returning from a road trip camping with Orion, even without the summer cold!
People still ask me if I have any regrets for making the decision to have by-pass surgery. It hasn’t been all roses, but if I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t dream of doing then all I can feel is grateful.
Orion and I got home late last night and I have photos to sort through this morning. So a late posted blog because I have to tell you what we’ve been up to.
We took a weekend trip out to the pink rock country. We visited Pipestone and Sioux Falls. As you know this year my women’s group each adopted a diorama from the Bell Museum. One of those diorama’s was of Pipestone.
Our adventure began by stepping into the diorama.
The tall grass prairie is in bloom at this time of year. Several of the exhibits at the National Park talk about the herbology of the Native Americans in the area. This is buffalo country, but the only one’s we saw were statues.
The Sioux Quartzite formations are very dramatic. They are full of fissures and faces. Towering above us they still embrace us, like sitting in a circle of elders.
This site is sacred to many different tribal nations, and that sacred ground is very apparent. Walking under the cliffs has the feel of being in a cathedral. The stones sing, as does the river that runs through the site.
Only registered Native Americans from tribes that historically mined the area are allowed to quarry the pipestone. They still do it by hand, with respect to the land. The quarries sometimes collapse or fill with water. There are families who spend years coming out to Pipestone to reclaim quarries that have fallen. Tending these sites is like a gift to the ancestors and descendants. It is sacred work.
We got to talk with some of the pipestone carvers, who work doing demonstrations at the Information Center. Carving is also a generational skill. Travis Erickson has been carving most of his life. He also saves the pipestone dust from his carving and makes a resin in which he embeds sacred herbs (like flat cedar). He turns these into amulets also for sale at the museum shop.
We spent the night at Palisades State Park in South Dakota. Our hostess reserved cabins so we didn’t have too much haul and carry. The cabins were not “accessible” but manageable and comfortable, especially since I had help. We had perfect weather, a late night watching the Perseid meteor shower, and breakfast on the cabin deck. Orion and I didn’t go walking through the park (except the hike to the bathrooms) but some of my friends did and judging from their stories there are some wonderful spots.
Sunday we spent in Sioux Falls. We went visiting family (not mine, but it’s always fun to meet my friend’s parents) and gawking about town. Apparently Pokemon Go functions as a guidebook to interesting sites. We found many in Sioux Falls, and made a point to visit a few. We went to see some of the sculptures on the Augustana College campus. We drove down the sculpture walk and of course spent some time at the falls.
Sioux Falls runs over pink rock, but here it’s not pipestone but quartzite. The falls powered a mill early in the development of the city. The ruins (it burned down) form some of the park structure. Again, we couldn’t have asked for a prettier Sunday afternoon. Of course the park was full of people and I wasn’t getting the wheelchair out climbing on the rocks. We did find a spot where we could stand in the spray of the falls and that was refreshing.
I skipped my blog last week. No notice. No excuses. No nothing. Just didn’t write.
I hit that overwhelmed point. I had things to say. Too many things it seems. I couldn’t find a focus. I couldn’t find a focus in the rest of my life either. I missed a doctor’s appointment. I discovered I hadn’t gotten in my time card when no check came in the mail. I had laundry (and water) in the basement. I had boxes (empty) all over the house. I was a mess.
In all fairness, I’m probably still a mess, but it’s getting better. I got out the calendar and started writing things down (rather than relying solely on the cell phone, which seems to drop appointments for no good reason.) I let go of an obligation that was the “one thing too many” that sent me on this spiral. I got the boxes out of the middle of the living room and into a “staging area” so I can fill them one at a time and put them back.
I’m working on my sleep schedule. At least I’m sleeping, even if the hours are still a little odd. I’m putting away laundry and watering the poor, sad plants. I had my corn for Lammas* and decided I am not in a hurry to dig out the harvest season decorations. I’m trying to be kind to myself – one step at a time.
Last week I got a notification from WordPress saying “Happy Fifth Blogging Anniversary!” My goodness, has it really been that long? I spent some time this last week wondering if I was done, if I needed a serious blogging break. I decided that I’m still good, as long as my readers will forgive an occasional dropped post like last week.
Having a weekly blog is one of my touch points in a rather unstructured life. I need those now and again. Once a week is not so high pressure I can’t handle it. It’s not so infrequent it doesn’t matter. It holds me accountable to take time to reflect on my life, my choices, my spirituality, my vision. Those are good things.
So, dear reader, I may be a mess but if you’ll still have me I’ll still be around on Mondays.
*Previous Lammas posts: