August

Charles Dickens could sum up the month of August in one phrase, but I owe you more than that.  For now, here is a summary of our most significant events…

Dh told me to cancel all commitments for a weekend and we escaped to the cool WA coast (high of 69 degrees) in the midst of a 100 degree week here at home. Cold ocean waters numb ankle pain and there is nothing quite like sitting in a beach chair, watching the waves and letting the wind whip your mind clear of stress and worries. Sometimes I wish I lived at the beach. There are photos to share in another post.
We paused to pick blueberries on the way home, and I regret that I did not pull out the camera. The bushes were laden with ripe berries and the hardest part was stopping when our bag was full, because there were so many more berries to be picked.

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Dh again told me to cancel all commitments on August 21st but not in so many words and not for an escape to the coast. That morning during the eclipse, he suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He never hit his head, never blacked out, but sudden intense pain was not a good thing and even though he didn’t present typical stroke signs like you would see with a brain aneurysm,  he knew where he needed to go. If you ever suddenly find yourself with the worst headache of your entire life, get thee to the ER immediately! In his case, SuperDad had been exercising with a CrossFit maneuver — jumping rope with “double-unders” — and apparently tore a vein in his brain.  The brain bleed was diagnosed by CT scan at the ER, and the staff began making arrangements to transfer him to a neurological ICU; however, there were no open beds in this specialty in our area. Instead, we found ourselves on a Life Flight to Seattle and ten nights at Swedish Medical Center, with 8 of those nights in the Neuro Critical Care Unit. (Fun times. NOT.)  Honestly, I lost count of the number of CT scans, although I’m sure our insurance will be getting a detailed account for billing purposes.  Two angiograms. One MRI. Daily Doppler ultrasounds to track blood flow changes while on vasospasm watch.
When the high danger of repeated incidents passed, we were sent upstairs to a neuro floor (not ICU) for our 2 final nights of the 10-night stay. While there his medications were adjusted so he could go home (no more IV rescue meds for pain control). We were able to return home on the last day of August.

How anyone goes through such an event without incredible support from others — support in really tangible ways, like deliveries of food and clothing, toiletries and prescription medications for the caregiver (me); support in less tangible ways, such as prayer; the downright drudgery support in making sure pets at home are fed and watered, garbage and recycling cans dragged to the curb — I will never be able to understand how anyone possibly do well in recovery and healing without that support on many levels.  I didn’t even consider work, aside from letting people know what was happening; others took care of getting the job done in my absence. Family and friends ensured that we had what we needed, including the 5+ hour ride home. There was no way I was in any shape to drive, not withstanding the fact that we’d ridden in a small plane to Seattle ten days before.

At this point, the headaches have lessened as the blood has been moved away from the hemorrhage site. Thanks to efficient cerebral spinal fluid, his lower back, hips, and hamstrings are tight and painful (blood anywhere it shouldn’t be causes nerves to freak out) but this also tells us we are nearing the end of needing pain medications.  Once he’s off the pain meds, we hope the brain processing and vision issues clear up. (I had this experience while on strong pain medications a few years ago.)  His prognosis is very, very good. If you have to have blood in your brain, this was the very best option: no aneurysm, no clots, no visible damage via scans.

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In other news, our PCT hiker is now in his final section of the trail (the penultimate section for those who have the time to go all the way to the end) and I expect to be able to pick him up next weekend. We saw H-J nearly every day while in the hospital; he is content with work while waiting for his final 2 classes to be offered in the spring. School started on Thursday when The Scout began his senior year (no first day photo because he was here and his parents were in Seattle at the hospital). His head still hurts after 14 months; he’s currently undergoing a series of acupuncture treatments.
Since it is fire season, our air is tinged (and sometimes filled) with smoke and the light is filtered through the haze.  I cannot see the hills in the distance this afternoon; we are enveloped in a white cloud of smoke.
I return to work tomorrow, although I may be splitting my time between the office and home (via my laptop). I’m grateful for that flexibility.

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Let there be light!

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The groundhog saw his shadow today. Frankly, I didn’t need Punxsutawney Phil to tell me anything — the flamingos have been doing a pretty good job of letting us know what’s up around here, and it isn’t the temperature!

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The Scout had his MRI last week and we’re still waiting for the results. (SuperDad has put a call in to the doctor.)  Honestly, I’ll be surprised if it tells us anything at all. I have to keep reminding myself that he had a really horrid fall and it’s going to take more time to recover. It was encouraging last week to hear his teachers tell of seeing “more of him” lately, that more often now when he is in class he is managing to have that light on behind his eyes instead of a glazed-over look.

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After a weekend of low stress and winter camping — where he felt relatively good and hardly needed extra rest time at all — he figured out that the anxiety over trying to accomplish all of his schoolwork is stressing his system. So on Monday when he went to school, The Scout met with his guidance counselor (the same one who helped us get the 504 Accommodation Plan set in place) and requested that he be allowed to drop two of his classes — Spanish 2 and Calculus. Bless her, she worked to make that happen. He has been able to attend school every day this week because he has some built-in “down time” where he can catch up on assignments or take a break in a quiet alcove or even take a nap in the nurse’s office.

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Having my teenager engage in conversation with us is a blessing that I cannot take for granted. When the pain in his head (which he describes as “a hot iron pressing against my skull”) subsides enough to let him be his normal cheerful self, with a sense of humor and light in his eyes, I know how lucky we are.

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Truly Living = Enjoying The Now

Christmas is basically 2 weeks away. We could quibble about a few days here and there, but for me and my schedule, I’m at C minus 2 weeks.

As I write this post when I should be doing other things I feel like I need to get this out of my head and into some kind of tangible format. I am wondering why I procrastinate. Why delay tasks, and what do I do with my time instead?

Like any one of you (yes, you!) I have many different “hats” to wear, many identities and duties I’ve taken on over the years. We all started quite simply, as children. We could just be — play, dream, read, sleep — while someone else took care of us. And there are many times we’d like to escape back to that simpler time in our lives because we grew into adults and took up a myriad of duties. Many — if not all of — those things started out joyfully and I hope the joy is still there for you.

My top three titles are wife, mother, and homemaker. If you have a home and you take care of it, doing your best to make it a place of refuge for you and/or others, you are a homemaker! If you have a job that earns money to put food on the table and a roof over your head, add that title to your list. There are other hats to wear, too: friend, volunteer (we all do things in our communities). Do you have hobbies? Anything that takes up your time counts. I find joy in each of one of the vocations that define me as a person.  While not everything on my list fits on a calendar (e.g., wife, mother, and friend are constants), they all take time.

Some people seem to handle life with great competence. They put on their multiple hats and walk as though it wasn’t a challenge to keep everything in balance. Admittedly, those people are few and far between, and I suspect they are hiding something. But there are plenty of other folks who put on their multiple hats, juggling them if they must, and rarely drop a hat. They manage their time well. Stuff gets done. On Time. I personally know some of these people. They amaze me.
I am not one of those people.

I find it hard to be industrious and take care of a big family (now 7 of us, plus extended family and a few friends who are like family) when there aren’t the sights & smells of Christmas in the air.
If I’d been really smart, I would have decorated right after Thanksgiving, so it would be done… but I like my fall decor and hadn’t really taken the time to enjoy it. That was a big mistake. The mistake isn’t about decorating for Christmas in late November; I was trying to get other things accomplished before my foot surgery and Christmas decorations didn’t make the short list. No, the mistake was that I failed to enjoy what was happening now. I think that is key: Enjoying The Now. I didn’t look up, didn’t look around, didn’t soak in what really mattered.

I was busy with other stuff — what that stuff was, I don’t recall. 

OUCH. If I was truly living, I should be able to account for that time. Not that life is a spreadsheet to be turned in for a grade, but we should probably know where our time has been spent and what we did. If I was truly enjoying the activities (or at least enjoying the product of those activities), if I was truly present and involved, I would know exactly where and how my time was spent. And yet, much of my day disappears in a haze of busyness with little account for “where the time went.”

So right here, right now, I am sitting and thinking and tapping out words from my head and onto the keyboard. I am looking at what is right in front of my eyes. I’m at home. I’m looking up and looking around at the room in which I am sitting. I force myself to pause on each object, to consider why it is there. I look back at what I have written here. And I think.

I think I know the answers to my questions: I procrastinate because the task either feels overwhelming and/or I don’t feel up to beginning to work on it.  And what do I do with my time instead? Well, sometimes I just sits and thinks… and sometimes I just sits… but let’s break that down and lay it on the table for us all to look at it, because I’m not opposed to daydreaming, in moderation. It’s part of being a creative person! ButI waste a lot of time on the computer. There it is, in tangible form.
[If my husband read my blog, he would be so proud of that admission.]

There is, of course, good and useful time spent on the computer. Like right now, for instance! I can account for this time spent. I’m basically journaling. When I click “publish”, I will be sharing myself with friends and others.
But the hours spent playing solitaire and looking up useless information, filling time by roaming facebook and sometimes, yes, even blogging! — that is not time well managed or well spent. There are hats to be worn, hobbies to enjoy, life to be lived. If my eyes are only focused on the screen in front of me, I’m not enjoying the now. I’m not participating in things that bring me joy. I’m not truly living.  This revelation prods my mind, pricks my conscience, jabs my soul and delivers a sucker-punch to my heart.

On my previous blog, I wrote that I have a convoluted relationship with my computer, that the computer can easily take over “real life” (including time to get everything done in the day, and time I’d like to spend on hobbies), so I’m trying to learn the art of balance.

Obviously, I am a slow learner on a life-long journey.