I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Write From the Soul 17

I feel like I've been out of touch for months even though it's only about a week. Instead of blogging, I've been writing nightly updates to 10-15 people concerning my Mom's progress after breaking her kneecap and having surgery. She's been in a rehab center for 9 days now and has progressed from spending the whole day in a "johnnie" (hospital gown) to being dressed, walking with a walker down to the rehab gym, climbing a full flight of stairs, and transferring herself from wheelchair to walker and from walker to a bed. I am soooooooo awed by her determination and stamina at 86 years old! Go Sylvia!!!!!!

So you know what my Mom is doing at rehab....how about me???
Here's a typical day for me:
  1. Arrive between 9:00 and 10:00 AM and stop in to rehab gym to greet Mom and smooze a few minutes with OT and PT.
  2. Put away folded clean clothes I washed and grab the dirty clothes.
  3. Walk around the center and greet care workers we've come to know, unit secretary, nurses.
  4. Depending on amount of sleep night before, possibly take a quick cat nap on Mom's bed while she's working hard in the gym. (I know, I know, that's pitiful and so uunfair.)
  5. Sit in room and chat with Mom about an hour or so until her lunch arrives and we have to analyze what she can eat and what she WILL eat. Oh, and i eat the lunch I brought with me.
  6. Watch two local channels' newscasts. 
  7. Read some. Sometimes Mom dozes off. Sometimes I doze off.
  8. Whenever Mom takes a bathroom break, I zip down to the "Day Room" computer, check her email, my email, check out a few things on Google, then head back to the room.
  9. Depending on sleep amount, maybe take another short nap on bed while Mom reads in wheelchair.
  10. Get a ride back to my Mom's house between 4:00-5:00. Wash the dirty clothes to bring back.

As you can see, not a really stimulating day of activity! Of course, some days, the nurse practitioner comes in, or a doctor, or the dietician, or the social worker. Then, I'm "on patrol", gathering all the facts and information to bring back to share with my sister. Most days, there's also a pep talk to keep Mom motivated to do the hard work in order to demonstrate that she will be ready to go home and care for herself. Some days, I have to be the taskmaster, other days, the jokester to keep her smiling. When I offered to come in and help, I was willing to do ANYTHING necessary to get Mom back to her level of normal, including sacrificing my plans in Atlanta.

I'm returning to Atlanta for a writers' conference Friday through Sunday and I'm excited. Partly because the conference is so invigorating and inspiring, and makes me want to write better. Partly because I need some mental stimulation after 14 days of sitting in a hospital room and now a rehab center room.

I will be returning to Boston for another 10 shift with Mom while my sister and bro-in-law work and the nephews go to school. But I think the hardest part is done and after another week in rehab, she will get to go home.

Going home........ I'm looking forward to that myself, even if it's only for a weekend :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Write From the Soul 16

Have you ever stayed overnight in your parent's home while he or she is not there? Since I live in another state, I'm sleeping at my mom's house while she is in physical rehab after breaking her kneecap. I have to say.....it's a little creepy! It's an older house and there are soooo many sounds; creaks, crackles, water trickling, radiators heating up, and the stairs seem to make noise even when you're not walking on them! I've never noticed all the sounds before, just the sounds from Mom or me.

I wonder....could the house be haunted?????

I mean, one of the alarm clocks just went off without being set. And I found the computer on when I had  already shut it down. WHY???????? I also keep hearing the dryer in the basement, even though I'm not drying clothes. Am I imagining this???

Of course, the alarm clock that went off was right near the window blinds that I closed. I guess I could have inadvertently pushed the on/off switch. And the computer? It was 1:00 AM and I was sleepy, I suppose I might have clicked "Restart" instead of "Turn Off ." And that dryer rumbling in the basement, could actually be the furnace making some of its strange noises.

Do I sound like the little kid who can't go to sleep because she sees monsters in the shadows and thinks the boogieman is in the closet?

I think I really miss my mom. Work hard Mom so you can come home soon. I don't like being here without you!  XOXO

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Visualeyes 16

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

I am still in Boston, visiting with my mom who is still in the hospital after 2 surgeries in one day, excessively low blood pressure, and needing two units od blood to stabilize her.... and we're keeping our fingers crossed that today will be the day she can be sent to the rehab center- that's physical rehab, not substance abuse, although I'm getting closer to the substance abuse myself with all this sitting around in the hospital!

This past week, as Mom was leaving for the first of two surgeries in ONE day, I was trying to quickly gather up her stuff, not knowing if she'd come back to the same room. I was looking for her glasses but couldn't see them. I asked the nurse- we'll just call her Nurse CrankyPants- if she knew where they were. She pointed to the nightstand and said "over thayer[thick Bahston ahccent].  I still couldn't find them so I asked again. She got snarky with me and said,"they're right there, don't you see them???" Well, being the gentle soul that I am, and a believer in tolerance-for-all, I turned to her, smiled and replied: " I'm sorry but I don't see well. I'm losing my vision, I'm going blind![smile]"  Nurse CrankyPants suddenly became less snarky, grabbed hold of my arms and apologized. Lesson learned. Changing someone's view is always a good feeling :-)

So happy day to you and remember to count your blessings. It could always be worse. Think I'll go eat some chocolate now.......

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Write From the Soul 15 (and some Visualeyes too.)

Breathe...inhale...exhale. Breathe...inhale...NO! Don't hold your breath, remember to exhale. Breathing is cleansing.

I don't know about you but in my family, the women, when under stress, tend to only half breathe. We hold our breath for some reason. Sure, we know the breathing will help release the stress, but there's soooo much stress that it's almost as if our heads say "don't take another breath and you won't have to deal with new stressors."
Yeah, right.

'Cause if you're not breathing, you're not alive and if you're not living, you sure don't have more stress! (How wacked out is THAT!!!)

My mom has been in the hospital in Boston for almost a week. She fell, broke her kneecap in half, and needed surgery. Before that could be done, it was discovered she needed a pacemaker too. Because she takes a blood thinner from previous heart surgery, they couldn't operate until the blood was "thick" enough.  That took 3 days. As a result, she had a pacemaker implanted on Wednesday at 8 AM and knee repair surgery at 6 PM the same day. Now 2 surgeries in one day would be wearing for a 20 year old, difficult for a 40 year old. Try 80 year old!

There were many prayers ascending for her yesterday.

Top that off with my trying to get a flight from Atlanta to Boston with only a 4 day notice, without having to ransom anyone. Oh yeah, the East Coast was due for a big Nor'easter storm.

Still thinking it's not too stressful? Well add in that my sister and her family were scheduled to go out of town next week for school break, and still don't know if they'll make it. Sure, I came in for 2 weeks to "be on patrol" as my sister and i call watching over a parent in the hospital [don't always trust those docs and nurses since they have too many patients to attend to] but I can't drive any more! Can you say "buy a taxi for a week?"

Surgeries went well but mom is in mucho pain now with the knee. So in between morning and afternoon visits to the hospital, we are checking out rehab facilities because they want to move mom to one tomorrow or Saturday (which is manageable for me while family is out of town.)

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that there are other health issues going on in the family currently and it's kind of creepy staying in my mom's house/condo alone without her there. Doesn't make for restful sleep.

Did I mention I'm flying back to Atlanta for the SpringMingle Writers' conference the weekend of 2/26-28 and then turning around and flying back to Boston for 10 days?

Then I have to fly back to Atlanta on March 13th because the Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk is on the 14th and I can't miss that.

Of course, I need time to get my taxes done and I'm due back in Boston for Passover at the end of March.

Now can you spell S-T-R-E-S-S???????

Breathe Gail.... inhale AND exhale. Again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Visualeyes 15

In my last Write From the Soul post, I talked about visiting a friend's goat farm on Thursday. I left out some other animals we encountered. Kay and Glen have two huge, and I do mean humungous, dogs named Smith and Wessen. Wessen didn't give two hoots about us, but Smith was gentle and sweet and did I mention huge???? As you can see in the photo, Smith was the size of a small horse only with long, shaggy hair.
She is a Pyrenees Mountain Dog (I think I got the breed correct) and if she stood up on her back legs, she'd
be taller than me! What's so marvelous about this photo to me is that I am truly
comfortable with her. That amazes me because prior to two years ago, I was afraid of huge dogs and up until about 6 months ago, I didn't really care for dogs at all. A little back story...... As a child I was stocky and not very athletic, and I had to outrun a greyhound, the dog, not the bus! Now the dog was long and lean, and built for speed so you can imagine how motivated my stocky legs were to run their hardest! The only reason I managed to escape being a greyhound munchie snack was I'd  had a good head start. As a result, most of my life, I was afraid of big dogs. They, of course, always seemed rather fond of me. This led me to not really liking any dogs. I tended to look at them with disdain as if I couldn't find the time to even give them a pat. (Yeah, I wasn't fooling any of the dogs, just keeping myself from from panic.)

Six months ago, I started giving some thought to losing more of my sight and what that would mean. I decided rather than always walk around with a cane, I'd prefer to have a guide dog. Of course, it's difficult to convince a guide dog school that you're a candidate if you don't like dogs:-)
That started my campaign to learn to like dogs. I've made a concerted effort to interact with dogs since then. I admit that really huge ones, like Smith, still give me pause occasionally, but I can safely say that I'm no longer afraid and I appreciate their companionship and their love for their humans.

So..... a picture of me and a big ol' dog is quite an accomplishment. Thank goodness,these dogs aren't used as guide dogs. I have a feeling that the only way I could walk around with this guy is if I were riding him, not holding a harness. Not a pretty image!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Write From the Soul 14

Who let the goats out? Maaa- maaaaa- maaaa Who let the goats out........

Yep, the city girl went to the farm today. My friend Pam and I went to visit former colleague and still friend, Kay and her son, Glen. And about 20 goats....big ones, small ones, sweet ones, and some obnoxious ones too. We were told to wear old clothes and shoes because : goats like to jump up on you, there's goat poop around, and  you will get dirty. Old clothes I have. Old, crappy shoes? Not so much. But I went to DSW and found some great, rubber boots. They remind me of the galoshes we wore as kids. Never heard of galoshes??? That's just because you didn't grow up in the 50s! These are glammed up a little; instead of short, red,  rubber boots check out what they look like now.  Okay, so I'm all prepared with old clothes, snazzy boots and my camera.
We all head out to the barn, it's raining outside and apparently these goats have diva tendencies and don't like to be outside in the rain (these were all females, except for a few baby  boys who do whatever mom does). We walk in and get greeted with some cute baby "maaaa-maaaas" at which point Pam and I turn into munchy snacks.

Now I know many animals like to sniff people in rather delicate places, but these goats decided sniffing wasn't enough. One big mama stood up, put her front feet on my back and proceeded to try to nibble on my jacket, right around my butt. (Getting a little personal, aren't you girl?!!) Other baby goats tried munching on a pant leg, a jacket sleeve, and of course, the ever favorie fingers, up to the second knuckle. I was covered in so much goat slobber, it was pathetic! The only thing that saved me from being the muchy snack du jour were the bales of hay put out to eat. Check out these goats....and don't let the cuteness or smiles fool you, they can be ruthless!

As if I hadn't been abused enough by nosey goats, Kay suggested we give them a cookie snack- animal crackers. Now, offer cookies to human kids and you'll get cheers and outstretched hands. Offer cookies to goat kids (and mamas) and you'll get 6 goats nibbling on your fingers all at once. Three of the big mams pushed me against a fence, stood up and put front legs on MY SHOULDERS and did a staring contest to get me to cough up the goods. I sharted shouting to my friends: "Help! I'm being manhandled over here by goats!!!!" After they stopped laughing,
Kay and Glen came to my rescue and beat off the exuberant snackers! Sorry, no picture of that; they were laughing too hard! So here's what I learned on the farm today:
  • Boer goats are meat goats. People buy them as pets or as a food source.
  • They do not produce much milk so they aren't good for goat's milk or goat cheese. There's only enough milk for the kids.
  • They can be very cute as babies....before their horns grow in!
  • Even females have horns.
  • Never extend your hand with outstretched fingers to goats. You might bring it back missing a digit or two.
  • If you want to offer cookies to goats, throw the cookies away from yourself and run like hell!
On the way home, we passed the exit for the Pendegras Flea Market. I asked  Pam if she'd been there and she told me it wasn't just crafty stuff. It had a very diverse and ethnic flair to it. She said one could buy live chickens there, as well as chihuahuas, and guinea hens. I was trying to imagine a day filled with goats, chickens,and chihuahuas. Too much for one blog post. The chickens and chihuahuas will have to wait!

Pam, Kay, goat, and me.
                                                                             Glen and Mocha.      

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Write From the Soul almost 14

Yes, I know I'm a day late, and several dollars short. But tomorrow I'm going to visit a former colleague and a friend still at her goat farm. Yes, you heard correctly...goat farm. Stories and pictures are promised for tomorrow around 6 PM
This should be interesting.....