Sooo tired

I know that most of us can relate to the title of this post. And today is Sunday, when I customarily take a nap.

I have taken a lot of naps lately. Mostly on the couch at night while my husband and I are watching a TV show. Even on shows that I’m interested in, I find myself “resting my eyes.” John laughs and says, “Yeah, right.” I have been so tired that I sleep through parts of my favorite shows.

Yesterday we went to see “The Wall,” a movie that’s a fantasy about The Great Wall of China; it stars Matt Damon. As soon as we got to the theater, I sensed I was in trouble. We watched the previews, and I struggled to stay engaged. Then the movie began, and … I slept. Even with a hyper 10-11-year-old sitting beside me. He and his friend kept talking and I started to tell them to shush, but suddenly I didn’t care. I fell asleep.

I woke up about 20 or so minutes into the movie. I hadn’t figured out that Matt Demon was in the movie, and I didn’t recognize him until someone told him and his companion to go clean up, that they smelled like animals. Boy, I must have been out of it, because normally he is one of my favorite actors.

So today I took a cherished Sunday afternoon nap. I wasn’t feeling well, and I conked out. About an hour later, I heard quick footsteps walking around upstairs. I looked over and John was still in bed, so I woke him (not smart) and said, “Who’s that upstairs?” It was our daughter. She had come by our house to get her computer today, even though she came by yesterday afternoon for the same reason (and forgot what she came for).

I came upstairs bleary-eyed and said, “Well, hi, what are you doing here?”

I think that part of why I am napping so much lately is that I haven’t been sleeping well at night. I have an autoimmune disorder that causes my feet to swell and skin to itch…and just general joint discomfort. On a good night, I wake up only once, go to the bathroom about 3:00 a.m., and catch about 2.5 hours more of sleep. On a bad night, I wake up multiple times or I don’t fall back asleep. One day a couple of weeks ago, it got so bad  in the midafternoon at work that I took out my yoga blanket, folded it up like a pillow, got down on the floor under my desk, and napped for about 10 minutes. I was able to focus after that. (This is the first time in my 37 years of working that I’ve actually given in and taken a nap at work.)

I think my mind and body are tired from my weird diseases but mostly from grieving over my dad. I started sleeping with my daughter’s teddy bear about 2 weeks ago, and it feels good to have it to hug. Maybe I’m grieving the empty nest (though I longed for it to get here, it hit about the same time as my dad’s decline) and my dad at the same time. Who knows. I am grateful to be able to get up every day and walk. Keep on walking; keep on moving; take a nap when your body tells you you need to. (I can always put my head down and say, “Amen” and maybe people will think I’m praying. :D) That’s my theme.

 

Monday, Monday

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day,” sang the Mamas and the Papas. Today I’m feeling really good about Monday because I decided to take the day off after our trip to southwest Virginia over the weekend to celebrate my uncle’s 95th birthday.

Facebook just reminded me that just 5 years ago we traveled 1,800 miles in a few days. First we headed to Jackson, MS for our daughter’s junior recital (that’s a 7-hour drive from Nashville, in the opposite direction of our ultimate destination, my uncle Paul’s 90th birthday celebration in Weber City, VA). I believe we left Nashville on Thursday,  but that was 5 years ago, so I can’t trust my memory. The FB post also said that my dad made it to my uncle’s birthday celebration. I got kind of a lump in my throat as I recalled that my cousins Joe and Catherine drove to Canton, NC to pick up Daddy and drive him here for Uncle Paul’s celebration.

Daddy didn’t make it until his 94th birthday; he died one month and one day before, on October 28, 2016. I’m sure he would have enjoyed Uncle Paul’s 95th birthday celebration had he been able to attend.

Anyway, today I am glad that I decided to take off work. I am getting much more aware of the need to take a break from work every now and then. Last year most of the days I took off were to care for John (when he had back surgery in May) or for my dad when he was in the hospital for 5 days in August. John and I didn’t go anywhere all year except for one weekend trip to Beersheba Springs, the site of our annual all-church retreat, about 2 hours east of Nashville. I remember being worried about traveling then; it was at the end of September, and I was afraid my dad would die while we were gone.

When we drove out of town December 26 for a couple of days, I felt like a bird freed from its cage. I don’t like staying in town all year. Every now and then I feel the need to fly the coop and hit the road. It’s just good to get away from the humdrum dailiness of life, relax a little, enjoy the sights of nature somewhere else, and forget about normal life for a while.

Last year was a stark contrast to 2015, when we traveled to Spain to see Julie (and had a lovely two weeks traveling around the country…this only served to whet my appetite for further trips to Spain and other places abroad). We went in March, which turned out to be a pretty chilly time to visit Spain. The weather was cold and damp for most of the time we were there (in the 50s and rainy several days). The last few days, when we were in Madrid, the temps got up into the 70s, and we finally felt like spring had arrived.

In June 2016 we traveled to Williamsburg, VA to visit my cousin Joe (and Catherine) and celebrate his birthday. We turned that trip into a minivacation, did some sightseeing around Jamestown and Williamsburg, and met a college friend and her husband for dinner.

Now, after our latest trip to see family, I am beginning to get the travel itch. Julie has spring break coming up in March, and we had talked about heading to North Carolina to visit family there, but alas, they are all busy. So Julie and I may go canoeing or do something at least one day of her spring break. She’s thinking about driving to Mississippi to see some college friends, so I may take a day off and kidnap John from his work and go somewhere.

John is recovering from neck surgery in January. He said to me sadly over the weekend, “I guess I can’t canoe anymore.” We haven’t canoed in several years, since our kids were teenagers. I’d like to get back to canoeing occasionally and horseback riding (which I’ve done only occasionally). I may have to find some friends to do that with and find tamer fare for me and John. I do have a Bucket List of places I’d like for us to visit. The trick will be lassoing him long enough to go somewhere. After all, he owns a pool and spa maintenance business, and he stays pretty busy most of the year. This may be the year I talk him into semiretirement. He turns 70 this September. Time’s a-wasting…we have miles to go and promises to keep (and lots of road trips or at least plane/rental car trips) to go on.

So this Monday is a super fine day to be off work. The temperature is supposed to get into the 70s. I have laundry to do, housework to catch up on (ah, who am I kidding? I will probably spend an hour at the most doing housework), junk to sort through and take to Goodwill, and a friend to meet for happy hour. I am glad I didn’t have to go to the office. I got up at 5:30, drank my first cup of coffee and had my morning devotion, then I felt sleepiness overtake me, and I wound up on the couch with the kitteh for about 30 minutes. Soon I headed downstairs and went to bed. I awoke at 9:30. Now, in my opinion, that’s a great way to start a Monday!

So today’s theme (in case you wondered after all my rambling) is RECHARGING. That’s what I’m doing. I think I’ll be a nicer person to be around after this lovely day off.

 

P.S. Stay tuned. One of these days I will learn how to send photos from my phone to my blog. I get impatient about wanting to post pictures immediately, and heck, who has time to try to figure out new technological things on a precious day off?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hallelujah! I Remembered My Password

Well, now. I know you have wondered, if you have ever read my blog, if my blog just dropped off the face of the earth. The truth is this:

  1. I now consider 2016 the Year of the Blur. My dad died on October 28, and most of the year was consumed with managing his care, along with my “normal” life.
  2. When I was ready to write again, I couldn’t log into WordPress. It had been so long that I had forgotten my password. I tried and tried, and then decided “The hell with this. I’ll try again later.”
  3. I have been doing a lot of mental processing and writing in my journal instead of blogging.
  4. I have decided that I will take my time to grieve the loss of my dad. It was an immense loss to me. I told my husband before Daddy died, “I may not cry too much at the funeral. But rest assured, I will be hurting. I will always remember him. I will always grieve his loss, even if I put on a happy face.

So here we are, in February 2017. Much has happened since the last time I blogged (on my weird autoimmune disorders. See The Queen of Weird Diseases if you want to know more. If you would rather skip over that, I understand. Do what you wanna do.).

As  I write this, I have tears in my eyes just thinking about my dad. It was so obvious that he needed to go. I gave him permission to die; I told him on Tuesday, October 25, “Daddy, it’s okay if you go. I’ll be all right.” That was the last time I saw him conscious. He was in bad shape after a cardiac event on August 18. He spent 5 days in the hospital, and then we moved him to rehab at a nursing home about 2 miles from our house.

When we moved him to rehab, I thought, “This is only temporary. He’ll have physical therapy, and he’ll get better.” Now, I must tell you that I am the eternal optimist. My dad was 93, almost 94 (he would have been 94 on November 29), and his health had been declining for years.

Daddy’s cardiac event (in which he was short of breath; the night nurse at his assisted living called an ambulance and Daddy was taken to the ER) resulted in his being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and COPD. I had seen the latter two diagnoses on some of his medical records, but it seems that no one ever really treated his symptoms. I feel bad now that when he complained that he was having trouble breathing, I minimized his symptoms, thinking he was just anxious. After all, the nurses at his assisted living place had said every time they checked his oxygen levels when he complained of shortness of breath, his numbers were in the 90s, and that was good. But when his numbers dropped to the 80s, the night nurse, Pierre, took Daddy seriously and called the ambulance).

During Daddy’s hospital stay, he was completely out of his mind. Nothing he said made much sense. He asked funny questions, and uncharacteristically, he talked nonstop from the time I got to the hospital the morning of Aug. 19 until about 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, when he finally fell asleep just as the medical staff were wheeling him away for a cardio-something-or-other. It’s all a blur. The social worker who came to Daddy’s room the second day of his hospitalization was someone who used to babysit my children. What a surprise! She was so kind as she pulled a list of possible places for Daddy to go for rehab. Clearly he would not be able to return to Morningside, his assisted living residence.

So there we were at Bethany Health & Rehab. Daddy started physical, occupational, and speech therapy. For a few days he made progress. Then he contracted 3 urinary tract infections in a row (he was catheterized while in the hospital), and things just went downhill from there. In one of the few times I saw him on his feet, assisted by two med techs, he said, “I’m going back to Morningside, and I’m going to start participating in more activities!” I had nagged him when he was at Morningside about getting to know people and the need for him to participate in activities there. He never was much interested in making the effort to get to know people. My dad is pretty shy, and I think he knew he didn’t have long to live when he moved to Morningside in August 2015…although I was unwilling to accept the idea of his death at that point.

I spent most of my visits with Daddy just holding his hand, talking to him about my day, things the kids (my adult children) were doing, the weather, what John was up to as manager of a pool & spa maintenance business. Some days his face would brighten up when I walked into his room. Some days he just lay there, looking at me with a tortured expression, like “How long do I have to endure this?” Many days he was sound asleep by the time I managed to get across town in rush hour traffic, and I hesitated to wake him, because he often was not comfortable while awake.

Toward the end (about the third week of September), the nurse from Bethany called me one day and said, “You know, your dad can’t seem to get a break. He is not making any progress in his therapy, although he tries hard. I think it may be time to focus on palliative care.” Sadly, I agreed. I met with the palliative care nurse one week, and a week later, she told me she thought Daddy was ready for hospice care. Again, I agreed. I felt better about hospice care because I thought Daddy would appreciate the spiritual aspect of it. I never got to talk to the primary chaplain on duty, but one chaplain who visited said his face lit up when she said the name of Jesus. That made me feel better.

During this time, when I normally would have sung hymns to Daddy, I had a bad cold that I couldn’t seem to shake. It affected my voice, and there were a couple of days I had laryngitis. So when music would have been a comfort to both me and Daddy, I was voiceless. Therefore, all I could do was sit beside his bed, hold his hand, rub his shoulder, and occasionally talk. Most of the time I was just quiet. He slept a lot. I played Words with Friends and chatted with everyone who came into Daddy’s room. Got to know some of the med techs and nurses quite well. One sweet med tech discovered after talking to me that Daddy didn’t normally have a mustache. She had shaved him and left a mustache, and I just thought it looked so funny on him. Almost Hitler-esque but it curved down around the corners of his mouth. After I told her that he didn’t usually have a mustache, she always shaved his face completely.

So then we came to the week that he died. I was there the night before he died. He was coughing and it was like waves every time he coughed…no productive cough. I was afraid he was going to choke. The nurse kept running into his room and giving him atropine drops to try to dry up some of his congestion. He was already dry from being on oxygen. The nurse had met me that night and told me Daddy’s baseline had changed drastically that day. He asked if there was anyone I needed to contact who might want to see him. He and I both knew that Daddy wouldn’t last much longer. After I was there for about an hour and a half, I decided to go home and try to rest a bit. I managed to sleep that night, and I went to work the next day. I got the phone call from the nursing home at 10:30 telling me that Daddy had just died.

It was the saddest day of my life. Even sadder than when my mom died on February 10, 1991 and I wasn’t there with her.

I am at peace with my dad’s death. He is no longer suffering. But oh, how I miss him. The other day I pulled out his billfold and looked at his driver’s license, renewed when he was 92, just before he came to Nashville to live with us for 13 months while undergoing treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I saw his picture and I cried. I find notes that he wrote (when he could write), and I cry. I refuse to get rid of some of his clothes, because I just want to wear them and remember Daddy. I know he is with Jesus. That thought consoles me. But oh, how my heart grieves.

Time will lessen my pain. I will get through this. But right now all I want to do is grieve, and I will let myself do that.