Global Pain

Dying sea stars, August 2014, Cannon Beach, Oregon

I remember seeing starfish on the Oregon coast, splayed in amoeba-like positions, looking like they were attempting to climb out of their tidepools. Docents on that beach explained to scattered groups of people that large numbers of starfish were dying and no one seemed to know why. Climate change and the warming ocean was one theory.

Wildfire smoke is in the air, its acrid scent assaulting nostrils and at-risk lungs. It’s our fifth season now, following autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Being outside means breathing dangerous particulates into our lungs, yet being outside is a safer way of spending time with people during a pandemic.

It’s too hot to sleep at night. Summers were not this hot, not for this long, twenty years ago. We use machines to cool the air, but the noise of the fans competes with the noise of the thoughts in my head. All of those noises – the literal and the metaphorical – keep me from sleeping.  

Covid-19 rages on. People already divided by politics are divided even more by personal feelings about disease management, risk tolerance, and public health measures during a pandemic. Families are being torn apart by death and lack of civility.

Several times each week this summer, I read the words “water rescue” combined with the name of a landmark in my city. There are increasing numbers of people climbing onto the thick cement walls of the bridge, desperate to escape the pain in their lives.

Nearly twenty years ago, two airplanes crashed into twin towers in New York City, and desperate people jumped to escape the Dante-esque inferno. My brain cannot erase the horrific images of individual people falling to their death.

A plane takes off from an airfield in Afghanistan, desperate people running alongside — some clinging to the outside edges of the giant machine. My brain cannot erase the horrific images of individual people falling to their death.

Living Life Ruled by a FULF

Today marks 19 months since I underwent ankle fusion surgery, a procedure that is supposed to bring 8-20 years of relief for most people.

I am not most people.

My FULF* is an overachiever, proven by the 6-month post-surgery X-ray where additional traumatic arthritis was already visible. The surgeon was very surprised to see it. That was 13 months ago.

I wasn’t expecting a miracle. I had decided that if I had a 50% reduction in pain I would be happy, and I did get that 50%. Score! Unfortunately, the pain level has been creeping back up. The doctor told me to not wait as long to come in for help because it had been so bad last time. But at what point to I go in again? When I can no longer sleep at night because of pain? That’s what I did two years ago, because there is the rest of the family to think about, especially my husband (a.k.a., my live-in nurse) and any travel plans. The surgery itself takes significant recovery time — last time was around 11 weeks non-weightbearing, after which I used crutches and slowly added percentages of weight on that foot. There was a lot of time spent lying in bed with my foot in the air, trying to keep swelling down to allow the incision to heal. The scarring isn’t pretty and more surgery means even more scarring.

*FULF is a term coined by a blog friend who also has struggled with a “flubbed up left foot.”
It’s more than just my left ankle and the traumatic arthritis brought on by the trimalleolar fracture of November 2015, although the ankle and resulting surgeries is the worst of it all. FULF encompasses everything that has been dealt with over the past 10+ years and I’m grateful to Barb for the easy moniker.

Welcome 2021

I admit there is relief in sending 2020 off in smoke last night.

It’s not that our family has had a terrible year; we’ve all remained healthy, those who have work have been able to work. At the same time, the isolation grows both too comfortable and irritating. Living with introverts during this time is fairly peaceful. They are content. I’m learning to be content in this new world and, I suppose, learning how to be an introvert. But I hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is real, that a year from now we will be spending time with friends and extended family, attending worship services in person, planning vacations, fully immunized.

It’s 2020 in America, but maybe it’s really 1961.

As I was reading the news over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, I couldn’t help but recall our visit to Alabama last year. We spent several days in Montgomery and one day in Birmingham visiting civil rights museums, monuments, and memorials. When I read about and saw the video clips of the Biden-Harris campaign bus being surrounded on the highway in Texas, forced to slow down to 20 mph, my mind went to the Freedom Riders bus that was attacked by similar means.

The Greyhound bus on exhibit
photo of burned-out Greyhound bus

Of course, the Biden-Harris campaign bus did not meet this kind of ending. They were able to call 911 for help. However, the lack of law enforcement on Highway 35 is telling. This wasn’t West Texas (miles of nothingness); this happened on a busy stretch of highway. The parade of Trump supporters, with their vitriol and hatred of anyone not just like themselves, reminds me of other parades.

Civil Rights for everyone offend some people

It’s 2020 in America. I’m trying to hold onto the hope that we can be better and do better, but this past week has me hanging by the tips of my fingers. I cannot understand why so many of my fellow Americans voted for hatred, disrespect, and cruelty.

4 more years of this? — Teri Carter’s Library

___________________________________ In the final days of presidential campaigns, it is American tradition to ask, Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? This year, how about we add a few: Are you happier than you were 4 years ago? Sleeping well? Getting along with your neighbors? Confident in the health of your […]

4 more years of this? — Teri Carter’s Library

Teri Carter asks excellent questions. I hope you read her post.

Saying Goodbye with Grace

On Sunday afternoon, we gathered in a circle outside his house — not arm in arm, but masked and standing apart — to pray and sing one of his favorite hymns. Tonight, our friend and Pastor Emeritus is in a hospice house.

He was still downhill skiing at 85 when he retired for the second time. This summer, at 87, he was still riding his bicycle, and three weeks ago he was driving his car around town. Just 10 days ago he was diagnosed with untreatable cancer.

I’m grateful he is not suffering a long illness, and I’m grateful his family could gather and surround him and one another with love over the past week. It won’t be long now until he meets his best friend, Jesus, face to face. He is ready.

Gratitude

One of the saving graces in my life right now is a gratitude group that I’m a part of — a private, online group — sorry, you can’t join but you could start your own and invite others to comment with their own daily/weekly gratitude posts.
How does it work? Well, here was mine today:

  1. It’s a gorgeous fall day (by Friday it’s going to be wet and snowy and wicked cold overnight, but right now? It’s gorgeous with clouds and sun and wind and fall colors).
  2. One of my favorite blog writers has a new post about taking care of ourselves mentally right now — and not just a new post, but several others that I missed somehow over the past few weeks/months of being in and out of connectivity. She’s made me smile and nod with recognition, touched my heart with compassion, and made me guffaw over a dog story about the puppy in their house. I’m grateful for her writing and sharing of messy life.
  3. My cat is still alive and still healthy. (She is also annoying, constantly wanting to be in a lap and she sometimes yowls because she is deaf as a doorknob and that is lonely.)
Help! I’m being held captive by a sleeping cat!

We were supposed to be camping

SuperDad and I took a drive on Thursday to scout out some new camping spots along a river. This section of a national forest has free dispersed sites although not many of them are good for trailers, so it is smart to check them out first before attempting to camp there. This was supposed to happen while we were camped in an actual NFS campground within an hour of our scouting expedition, but heavy rains last night coupled with several days of bad weather in the forecast caused us to rethink the camping part of this trip. Luckily, there were photo ops present:

Peek-a-boo!
A cow and her calf
Mama Moose
I believe the calf is a male

After such a lovely day, it had darned well better be miserable weather or we’ll regret canceling our camping plans!

The water was so very clear!