Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Difficult Week

Monday morning started with a phone call from my cousin Helen sharing the sad news that Grant Stanley, the 38-year-old son of my cousin Dick and his wife Irma, had died the previous day of a totally unexpected heart attack.  I had not seen Grant since he was a child ant then went off to college, but Dick had proudly told me when Grant got on with the railroad and lived in Texas.  And, of course, Dick and Irma were very happy when the young family with two of their grandchildren transferred back to Illinois.  Somehow I had missed out on knowing that Grant had married a young woman from our local rural community, but I soon found that out when I went on Facebook and found a grieving comment by one of her family.

I went to Katherine’s for awhile on Monday to write checks for her , but I did not go in Tuesday and Wednesday because I understood she had help.  Gerald and I both had check-up appointments on Wednesday, and when he suggested maybe we could meet up for lunch with our friends Bill and Mickey Tweedy, whom we had not seen in ages, I thought that was a great idea. He dropped me off at  the physical therapy department at the Orthopedic Institute where I was to have the stitches taken out of my hand  from the carpal tunnel surgery. Gerald went back to Marion for his appointment

Measurements were taken of the grip in both hands, and  I was taught more exercises to strengthen my grip and to prevent scar tissue.  I was warned me not lift over ten pounds and not to soak in a hot tub, but I could get the hand wet and even wash a few dishes since I was no longer having to wear a bandage.  Next  I walked down the hall for  the conveniently scheduled 10:10 appointment with the doctor.  I was impressed with their efficiency.

The building is a bit confusing with its various waiting rooms, so with help I finally found where I was supposed to check in, and I sat down to people-watch and to wait to be called in.  I figured Gerald would be done and back by eleven; and as time passed, I wondered if I would be still waiting when he came.  I wasn’t though as I think it was about ten till eleven when I was finally called in.  A nurse checked me over and left. Then I waited a bit longer. 

At that point the surgeon did not show up, but the P.A. did.  He said my hand looked good, told me not to lift anything heavier than five pounds and not to do dishes without a rubber glove and to get an appointment for another look later. Somewhere in here, he said something to the effect that he bet this was one of the shortest doctor appointments I had ever had.  Since by now, it was an hour after I was scheduled to see the doctor, I just smiled and inwardly chuckled.  Gerald was as impatiently waiting as I knew he would be by the time I found the lobby again.  He helped me find the right place to make the next appointment and we exited to the cold winter air.  We had time for one errand in Carbondale before we arrived at Denny’s for our luncheon date with Bill and Mickey, which we enjoyed immensely.

By the time we visited for a couple hours and drove back to Marion and then to the farm, the afternoon was shot and I was tired.  I have a difficult time with acknowledging to myself that I no longer have the energy that I have had in the past.  I am daily shocked at how much rest and how much sleep I need these days.  And how awkwardly and slowly I get around. I really don’t think I should say that I do not like being old, but I don’t.

In an email from my sister acknowledging my message about Grant’s death, I learned my niece in Amarillo had once more ended up in ICU with her blood sugar too low and then too high combined with all her other health problems.  She was out of ICU the next day, and that day rereleased from the hospital.  I was very grateful she had made it through the Christmas season since my sister and brother-in-law had lost one daughter after hospitalization on Christmas Eve and her death on New Year’s Day 2002.   But we know that sooner or later without a miracle that Candy’s health and other problems will defeat her.  So I absorbed that bad news and said one more prayer for her.

Then after a bite of supper, Gerald and I were both back down at our computers, and we got a PM on Facebook about upcoming surgery for yet another loved one. In the hurry to the early appointment,  I had forgotten to take my cell phone with me that morning, and so late in the evening when I went up for night pills and saw my cell phone lying there, I learned from a text that Katherine had not had help because the scheduled aide had unexpected surgery the day before for an ovarian cyst that had flared up causing her great pain.

It seemed as if bad news was coming from all over. Even though I had gotten up early that morning for the appointments, I lingered at the computer surfing to try and erase some of my sad thoughts by thinking about something else before I went to bed.  I shared with a friend on Facebook, and I phoned my sister and learned the latest news about her daughter and then surfed some more reading other people’s blogs. I used distraction to cover up or to prevent worry as I often do.  When I finally let myself go to bed, I did go to sleep without a problem.  I was grateful.

Since Katherine has good and very dependable help on Thursday mornings, I did a few things in the house, fixed Gerald lunch, cleaned the kitchen, and did not go in to Katherine’s until mid-afternoon.   A new aide was just leaving, and Katherine was finally up in her chair looking very pretty and happy over a good day she was having that included a wonderful reference letter given to Sam by one of his teachers.  She had been unable to get an aide for the evening  to replace the hospitalized one, but she left a message for  an amazing friend, a kind and strong young man who comes in an emergency to put her into bed from her chair.  He was out and not available.  Fortunately, another young man who had worked a bit for her before he had surgery last fall was able to come over and use her Hoyer to lift her into bed.  She got to see the photos on his phone of his new son now three months old.

This was early in the evening, and so I had time to stop by and see my daughter Mary Ellen.  Her picnic basket with dishes from Christmas was  in my car trunk, and we had not seen each other since they left our house on Christmas day to drive to Arizona to see Brian’s family.   She was sick while there with what Trent had before they left, and she came home possibly with the crud her mother-in-law had suffered while they were there.  I think Brian was sick sometime in this period of time also. Then Brianna had her turn with the stomach flu, so I had deliberately stayed away from their house.  We had a lot of catch-up visiting to do, and I enjoyed sitting at her kitchen table with her and seeing everyone including Fifi. Brianna will soon be going down to Disney World for her internship service there this spring, so I was especially glad to see her, but I am always glad to get my hug from Trent too.

Tonight is the funeral visitation for my cousin Dick’s son and tomorrow is his funeral. I am dreading it.  My emotions are more difficult to control than they used to be, and for that reason, I have even avoided some funerals in recent months. Dick is actually my first cousin’s son, but he was nearer my age than his mother and most of my other Martin cousins.  I always felt closer to him than many of the older cousins. He and his sister and mother lived with Dick’s grandparents at Goreville, where we spent summers. When my parents  visited them when I was a child, Dickie and I always played together even though I am a couple years older than he is.  When he moved back to Goreville from Texas many years ago and we ran into each other at a Goreville ball game, I exclaimed how glad I was to see him and without thinking called him Dickie.   Embarrassed, I said, “I bet no one calls you that any more.”  He laughed and said, “No, just you and my mother.”  In recent years during his retirement, Dick was extremely sick and I was afraid of losing him. But Irma’s determination and a change in doctor and medicines and a small miracle put him back on his feet in much better health.  How awful that he and Irma must now lose their beautiful talented son so young, his sister Libby must lose her brother, and that his wife and children must go on living without him.

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