Monday, April 30, 2018

Simply Smashing...

I'm overdue for an annual exam by two years, so tomorrow, whether I like it or not, my chest is getting smashed and radiated, always a painful if short-lived process. The last time, I also underwent an ultrasound and discovered much to my delight that I had nothing cancerous.

 I've also scheduled further physical therapy and a new massage therapist and will be purchasing a used massage table that I can hopefully fold and store in a corner so that any massage therapists who visit will be spared the  wear and tear involved in hauling around a table. That, it seems, is the foremost reason given for abandoning home visits. Travel to and from is an added expense for me, and can hasten the undoing of any positive benefits from massage. Since this and physical therapy are my primary means of pain control, it makes sense to assist a massage professional in this way, especially since the massage therapist herself found a good quality used table and will help transport it. Her office, located on the second floor of an older building without an elevator, is beyond me at this point.

A grocery run is on tap for Wednesday, thanks to my neighbor and the previously disputed situation with the paratransit service has been resolved in my favor, due in large part to my doctor writing a letter and with my permission, spelling things out for them while also rather politely venting her spleen at their stupidity. When I last wrote of this issue, someone made the comment that the bus system is poorly managed and under used and therefore not worth the money expended upon it. If there were no bus service, there would be no paratransit for people with disabilities at all. Since there are those among us who cannot drive or depend upon the largesse of others to do so, our best bet is to improve public transport so that everyone can use it.

Thanks for all of your kind words regarding my last post. I have been fortunate to know some very special people, and I try, how ever possible, to use the lessons provided through friendship in positive ways.

Until Next Time...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

In Memory of a Special Blogger...

Nine years ago, I went from walking to wheeling, a life transition proceeded by months of pain, injuries, falls, and a devastating knee diagnosis that included the fact that surgery was not an option. Five attempts at bracing and months of failed physical therapy left me drained, increasingly frustrated and tired. Heartsick over my increasing involvement with a medical system I'd long regarded as broken, I reluctantly accepted the recommendation of my physical therapist to see an adapted seating specialist for assistance in selecting an appropriate wheelchair.

Born prematurely and diagnosed with a relatively mild case of cerebral palsy as an infant, I spent my earliest years having surgeries, daily physical therapy, regular changes of braces and other less than salubrious activities, interspersed with periods in a chair. Diagnosed with osteoarthritis at twenty-six, I nonetheless continued swimming, yoga and walking until, at almost fifty, a series of falls and injuries left me virtually bed bound. With the discovery of extensive damage to my right leg, I began understanding the foremost fear of every person I'd ever known with a disability: the reality of becoming increasingly disabled or immobile. Presenting myself to the adaptive seating specialist, I was asked a series of questions about my daily activities, living situation and transportation, unaware of just how much each was to change.

After waiting several months for a custom-fit ultra light manual chair and then finding out that my insurance did not cover the several thousand dollar cost, I scrambled around raising money, even as my pain and stress levels skyrocketed. Friends and colleagues suddenly became scarce, a situation I was later to learn, that is all too common for wheelchair users. Days and nights would stretch on as I fought insomnia, went to work and tried to figure out how to modify the obstacle course that my home had become. Depression set in and a close friend I'd known since my undergraduate days suggested that I seek out the advice of other women who used wheelchairs.

It was during one of those late-night forays into the world of blogging that I met a fabulous red head who was as generous, humorous and kind as she was whip smart. She read my e-mail to her with interest and provided not only practical tips on subjects as mundane as trash removal and where to get help for a sudden flat but, after reading some of my early posts, her experience as an academic showed in her critiques of my writing. The fact that both of us could speak widely about books and films and had traveled and lived abroad helped me, as a more private person, feel comfortable in what became an online friendship.

Eventually, she talked frankly to me about the fact that both she and I and others she knew, were mourning profound changes in our lives and needed to realize that this was normal. Additionally, the attitudes and discrimination, lack of access and widespread misconceptions held about wheelchair users were real but that was no reason not to travel, work out, do new things, enjoy one's life and partner or attempt to reach goals. She started a postcard project aimed at breaking the isolation that often accompanies disability or chronic illness and would send postcards regularly to those who requested them. I loved getting these because no two were ever the same. Because of her I learned about manga and anime, tried and now love blackberries, wasn't afraid to go cross-country by car, picked up my guitar again, opened myself to new friends and community involvements and resumed living, albeit differently. She and her spouse travelled to Japan, taking readers along, and had many other adventures, all while coping with a terminal illness.

 It is hard to believe that years have elapsed. I still have moments in which I think,"Gee, wouldn't it be great to talk about--" before remembering that she is not here. She was amazing and so is her longtime partner and their close friend who saw them both through her illness. I really respect all three of these women. I hope everyone who reads this will begin to understand the power of support and generosity and find a way to make it part of your lives as my friend and her partner have done.

Thank you, Elizabeth, from the bottom of my heart...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Food Poisoning....

Sunday's high notes were eclipsed by what was apparent food poisoning Tuesday evening.  
Following what can loosely be described as a crappy two days, a scheduled physical was delayed and today is my first attempt at solid food. Between the physical therapy and lack of sleep, I'm hardly at my best, and my attempt at a nap resulted in three hours of sleep disrupted by a hungry cat who does not have any sympathy for his groggy human.

The weather has been beautiful but my only chance to enjoy it has been while awaiting rides to or from appointments I'd rather not have had in the first place. One of my Sunday visitors is so ill she's stayed home from work while my friend of the recent surgery is doing well and resting as ordered. She sent me a cute re-usable bag featuring a cat face and the words, "One cat short of crazy." She knows me well after almost fifty years, I think. While I might've left you with a photo of my now gleaming porcelain throne, I'll instead end this with a photo of one of my favorite trees. Do any of you have one of these?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Happy Sunday...

I have had a hectic week of appointments, tax review and payment, physical and massage therapy and, today, company in the form of three woman friends. We meet periodically for Scrabble, refreshments and loads of laughs. While the skies darkened and rain poured down, all of us were enjoying ourselves. Snacks and iced tea were involved as was chocolate, and one of them even brought me most of the groceries on my list for this week which will make things a bit easier for me. Another took care of Lukas' flea and tick medicine application and then dropped some mail at the post office for me on her way home. Later, I had a warm bowl of the Hungry Greek's Lemon rice soup. I don't know its actual name but it was delicious and warmed me right up. All in all, a wonderful reminder of what is good in my little corner of the world.

I'll leave you with a photo:

Cats do not sleep this way unless they are at peace and have no fear. He is settling in nicely.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Still Here...

I've been teary since the weekend when a small group of women put the last remains of a mutual friend in the water near her neighborhood in a place she loved. Sadly, because of my ongoing back and hip issues, I was not among them in person though I did pen something for the event. My friend died of cancer at 65 in November and I've written about her during that time and immediately thereafter. Foolishly, I'd thought I would be done with tears but the lesson I keep getting through the now double-digit losses that have occurred in the last few years is that tears come and go, often unbidden and without warning. Best to just let them be.

My physical therapy and massage are ongoing but broken sleep leaves me drained, so on rainy, no visit days like today, I sleep in and find my nights getting a bit earlier. I've discovered the joy of the digital platform known as Hoopla, through which I can stream audiobooks, read e-books and view some films and a limited amount of television programming, all courtesy of our library system. As this is National Library Week, I challenge my U.S. readers to do something in support of their libraries, even if it is merely checking out materials.

I have a dear friend, whom I met almost fifty years ago when we were little girls, who has just made it through a complicated surgery. I am grateful for that news on this dark and rainy afternoon.

Until Next Time...