Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things Gone Awry

This evening our granddaughter Brianna was again in concert with the Illinois Music Teachers Association annual performance at Eastern Illinois University at Charleston. She had been there all day practicing with the other band members from throughout the state. Since I did not get to go last year, when I first heard the date, I was hoping we could arrange to drive up for this. But nature had other plans for me this week.

After almost two weeks of coughing, last Saturday I cancelled joining other Writers Guild members to sell my book at the annual Autumn Fest at John A. Logan College. Since I did not expect to sell more than a book or two, this was to be a social event for me as I enjoy being with the other writers and seeing people I know in the crowds who attend. However, I knew I would not want to sit by me even though I was coughing much less and did not think I would be contagious. Knowing I could sleep in, I went to bed with happy contemplation of using the Saturday morning at home to catch up with all the things my lack of energy from the coughing cold had caused.

Alas, I did not sleep in. Even before Gerald woke up, which is always early, I was awake with terrible pain in my neck. I told him I needed someone to go google neck pain and figure out what was wrong with me. In my pained and groggy mind set, the only malady I could think of was infantile paralysis and I was pretty sure my polio shot was still good. Gerald assured me I was correct that it was not infantile paralysis, and later I found a google print out on neck pain by my pillow. First, however, he had grabbed the heat pad and put it under my neck and I did go back to sleep for a couple of hours.

When I woke up, I learned the hard way how dependant we are on our necks. Every step, every head movement in any direction, seemingly every word spoken caused my neck to hurt. A lot. A wry neck was not in my plans for the day. I already had a standard checkup scheduled with my doctor on Monday, so I was not about to venture to ER about my sore neck. Instead I just slept and moped and worried a bit about all the stuff not getting done.

I did run in to Katherine’s that afternoon, but I warned her when I got there, that I probably would not be much help. I had not realized not being able to turn my neck freely would handicap my driving as much as it did. But I went to town on back roads and was super careful and made it safely.

After her 3 p.m. lunch, we watched television together and I promptly went to sleep again. If I could stay asleep, I did not have to feel the pain. Again I drove home the back way and very carefully. I went to bed early. I craved sleep to block the pain. I can’t take aspirin because of being on a blood thinner, so I really did not have any meds to take.

We had planned to go to our church’s annual Thanksgiving feast Saturday night. I knew I could show up empty handed for the pot luck, but the pain made me sick all over, and I did not feel like being around people. Gerald had gotten involved with our son-in-law Brian who had finished his own harvest and volunteered to help our neighbor Scott combine a soybean plot he had on the field between our homes. (Scott had just had surgery.) I fixed Gerald a sandwich and left on the kitchen table and a can of soup heated on the stove and came down to watch the Republican debate hoping Gerald’s recliner might prove comfortable. It didn’t, and when Brian and Brianna came down to see how I was doing, of course, I couldn’t even turn my head to look at them. I moved to the couch to support my neck better, but I went to bed early.

The next morning I figured that I might as well hurt at church as to hurt at home, so Gerald and I did go to Sunday School and worship service. I’d told him he could take us out to lunch before we went by Katherine’s because I did not feel like cooking. I was pleasantly surprised when the pastor announced that there had been so much left-over food from Saturday night that volunteers had offered to serve them up for anyone who wanted to stay for Sunday lunch. So we stayed, and I felt as if we had gotten in on the Saturday evening’s celebration a little bit although when I heard about the program and some good things that transpired the night before, I knew we had missed a special service. (A man who had been on the wagon for many years and just now lost his job had a downfall. He had seen our church’s lights on and came to the service and was embraced by friends and congregation. Everyone had been glad our lights were glowing that night.)

Not only did we get a free lunch at church, we also got a bag of turnips. Charles Graves had brought a large box to share and even the bags to put them in. I fixed some the next day, and we will have turnips for Thanksgiving although Gerald and I may be the only ones eating them.

Later on Sunday, Katherine felt up to going to her church’s evening service, so after a lazy afternoon at home, we took her in her van while David rested. We picked up Sam at church and even went to the Dairy Queen after the service. Katherine had not been able to go for a long time, so the service and getting out of the house was good for her. I sat as quietly as I could to keep my wry neck still and knew I’d sleep good when I went to bed—quite early as soon as we got back home.

Gerald kept his dentist appointment Monday morning, and then he took me to my doctor appointment that afternoon at 3. Afterwards we went by Katherine’s and visited with her. We kept trying to kill time in order to pick up the pain pill and muscle relaxant that my doctor prescribed for me. Somehow, the prescription order did not arrive, and then we were under a tornado watch and it was beginning to storm, and we decided to go on back to the farm rather than risk being in hail or wind. Gerald swung though a drive-in to get us a bite for supper.

Soon I was in bed asleep again. I called the pharmacy when it opened on Tuesday hoping my meds were waiting. I was told a couple of other orders were ahead of mine but they should be ready in an hour or so. Gerald ran in and got them for me and finally before noon I took my first meds. The doctor had warned me that they would make me sleepy. Since I was sleeping as much as possible anyhow to not feel the pain, that sounded good to me.

By Thursday, most of the pain was gone and I could turn my head--not perfectly but much better. Yet all I wanted to do was sleep. Vaguely I remembered that I’d planned all kinds of work for November when we returned home from our trip to Georgia but between first the coughing cold and now the stiff neck, none of that work had been accomplished. Although I very much wanted to go to Writers Guild that night, I did not think it wise to drive that far as sleepy as I stayed. I went to bed early and slept.

Yesterday morning, I did not take my meds because I needed to drive to town to meet up where the Woman’s Club was getting in their orders for frozen braided bread—an annual fund raiser. Afterwards, I shopped for some needed groceries including canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving pies. Usually I cook a pumpkin after using it for fall decoration, but I never got around to acquiring a pumpkin this year. I thought after lunch that I would clean the kitchen and take my last pills since I was so much better. And then after a nap, I might start making pies.

I was still at the lunch table when the phone rang. Katherine’s aide had taken her to Carbondale that morning for an appointment with her urologist as she could tell that despite two rounds of strong antibiotics she still had infection. The doctor would not let her come home, but put her in the hospital where she could be closely monitored during the next round. So I skipped that final dose of meds that I planned to take and went to her house where the outstanding aide had brought home the van and gathered items needed to be taken back to the hospital.

Sam was going to a weekend youth retreat with his church, and a friend was to pick him up to take him to the church bus. I was there to explain where his mother was and that she said to tell him that she was fine. Sam and I were both trying to phone her then, but her new phone, which has been very cranky about only working part time, would not let us get through to her even though I had called her earlier. Then Gerald and I took her stuff over to the hospital at the end of the afternoon. I was delighted to see the care being given her and finding out that she was going to have a good many tests she had needed but had been unable to arrange.

This was supposed to be David’s big deer hunting weekend at his friend’s farm with out-of-towners coming down for the annual family ritual. He had arranged for someone to stay with Katherine for the two nights that he would be away. By the time Katherine had gotten a garbled text to him that she was in the hospital, David had already gotten a 9-point buck and then a nice-sized doe. All he had to do was butcher them, and their winter meat supply was accomplished. He certainly did not expect his wife to be in the hospital; but as Katherine said, this weekend was probably as good a time as any since Sam already had a scheduled activity and David had not planned to be at home either.

We came home around l0 last night. Gerald went on to bed. I ate a bite of supper and checked email and surfed and evidently fell asleep at the computer. At 1 a.m. I went to bed and decided to take those two final pills I had laid out. At 11 this morning, Mary Ellen phoned and I stumbled out of bed assuming it was 8 or 9. Well, obviously I was not going to get much work done before lunch, so I thoroughly enjoyed a rare phone call from her. (Our kids keep in touch with Gerald by phone regularly and he reports the highlights to me, but I like the occasional long talks that I get.)

Gerald left to visit with his brothers in Union County and have lunch with Keith, so I ate a combination breakfast/lunch and read the morning paper. I was still in my pajamas at the table when granddaughter Erin came by for a rare visit since she is so busy right now with all the softball practices and recruiting trips that her job requires. In addition to this, she must take a great deal of therapy for her wounded leg. I thoroughly enjoyed her visit before she left to go on down the road a way to visit Gma Shirley, her other grandmother. While Erin was here, Jeannie called for a brief visit and talk about Thanksgiving before she went for what she expected to be her final bike ride in northern Illinois before she puts her bike into winter mode for “riding” inside the house. She has challenged Erin to a bike ride Thanksgiving morning.

I went back to the kitchen and started doing some of the many put-off chores—cleaning and sanitizing the hummingbird feeders Gerald had brought in and I had been ignoring, putting groceries away that had sat on the counter across from the pantry, all those kind of things. I finally started on the pie dough and put a bowl into the fridge for the next step tomorrow. I cleaned the kitchen and garage fridges enough to not be ashamed of them next week although certainly not as thoroughly as I ordinarily have done in past years. Then I brought up the frozen turkey to start thawing in the garage fridge. By this time, Gerald was home and had a nap, and I fixed us a bite of supper before we prepared to go to the hospital to visit Katherine.

Because her phone was not working, I phoned David to see if he had taken her special pillows that brace her neck and help her legs. I did not want to have to go by her house if she already had them taken to her. He said he was on the way back to the hospital again and had the desired pillows in the car. I told him we’d see him at the hospital.

But again things went awry. We had gotten as far as Marion when Gerald’s phone rang. On the other side of Crab Orchard Lake just before Ike’s Honda, David had hit an 8-point buck which tore up their car—the Civic Honda they love so much. Would we stop and get the pillows? He had called the police and a wrecker which would tow the car just around the corner to Ike’s. We got the pillows, and Gerald told David we’d be able to pick him up after the wrecker arrived. But David said his friend Jim would come and get him. So we left him stranded by the highway just as the police arrived. The traffic was so heavy that the odds were slim that David’s car was the one the buck chose to assault, but that is what happened. We went on to visit Katherine, and she had a hard time figuring out that I meant the third deer had hit David rather than vice versa. She was already using the pillows by the time of her second visit of the day with David—by phone this time. He had called Gerald to tell him that both the wrecker and Jim had arrived, and by the way, he told Katherine that they had figured out her phone trouble. We did not get to ask for that explanation because we left when a therapist came in to give her a breathing treatment.

I have found out that many people have had stiff neck trouble—many much younger than me. The stories have been interesting. I realize I am blessed that I’d never suffered this before and that mine has cleared up as soon as it has. Now I am expecting things to go better for the little that is left of November.

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