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Saturday, February 12, 2011

February: The Longest Shortest Month

According to the calendar, February is the shortest month. Based on my experience, I consider it to be the longest shortest month of the year.

There’s something about the winter that makes it easier to have a bad day, or even a bad week. Slick roads, snow piled to the sky, and frozen water pipes become the rule instead of the exception. I have a lot of company when I say that February has not been good for me.

Last weekend was great with some good family time. I started the workweek with my day off—sounds good so far doesn’t it? Everything was going great until I washed a load of clothes and the water backed up into the basement. I figured something was frozen up and the forecast was for a week of freezing weather.

The week went downhill from there. I was behind at work because of last week’s blizzard and to top it all off, computer programming glitches stalled my progress and our annual audit fractured my concentration. I spent a week battling a constant headache, nerves and depression. I was behind schedule and no matter how hard I struggled, I could not catch up. For the first time in thirty years, I didn’t meet my deadline.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that my tough week was only a hiccup compared to the months and years of trying times when I was a primary caregiver. When I remembered February 2001, I felt like mentally slapping my own face for being so downhearted over the past week.

A decade ago, Jim had been kicked out of the nursing home and spent the entire month of February in a hospital for “regenerations” while we scrambled to find a new home for him. The hospital changed Jim’s medication and he was not doing well. Medicine that was supposed to level out his moods sent him into a constant state of agitation and he took his hostility out on anyone around him. My sons and I made the two hour (each way) trip nearly every day to check on him.

It was hard to convince the doctors that Jim wasn’t normally a violent person and that he had changed drastically since they had prescribed an antipsychotic drug. We knew that as long as Jim stalked the halls in a mean mood, we would never find a nursing home to take him. I even checked into “behavior units” and didn’t like what I saw at all.

I can honestly say that February 2001 was a bad, bad month. It was a time of uncertainty and constant worry that I wouldn’t be able to find a safe environment for Jim.

One day after a particularly harrowing outing, my oldest son and I insisted that the doctor take Jim off the antipsychotic drug. Jim steadily improved after the medication change and as February came to a close, a local nursing home gave him a second chance. It was months before I conquered my fear that some kind of incident would happen, and we would have to find another place for him.

After putting things in perspective, I realize that although the last week was challenging, it was not overwhelming in the scheme of things. Five days later, life is looking much better. My son fixed the drainage problem and today is supposed to be a balmy forty degrees. Snow is melting so fast I can hear it dripping off the roof. I’m back to my optimistic self and confident that everything is going to be okay.

I can surely conquer this month. After all, February is the shortest month and this year isn’t even a leap year. With Monday being Valentine’s Day, I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough chocolate to make it doable.

Copyright © L. S. Fisher, February 2011
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