Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Other Shoe


Recently, I watched a Forensic Files II show on TV, and the only clue investigators had that a crime had even been committed was a shoe on a bed. Nothing else had been disturbed, but they knew something bad had happened because they couldn’t find the other shoe.


Too often lately, I’ve felt like I’m waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Just when things started looking up, we came across that slippery slope of “gotcha.”


Monday, I packed up my ukulele, my bag, and fixed my ice water in preparation to (at last!) play music at a nursing home. I bartered with the doctor’s office to delay a visit until after the performance. Then, I showered, dressed, and applied my makeup including pink lipstick for “Lipstick on Your Collar.”


I was just reviewing my songs before heading out the door when my mom called. “We’ve been cancelled due to Covid.” Crap. All dressed up and nowhere to go, well, except for the doctor’s office.


I really feel like I’ve done my time at doctor’s offices. I spent countless hours with Jim during the multi-year diagnostic process. I enrolled him in a drug study so that involved more visits. After the initial screening, most of Jim’s appointments were out of town, so visits included travel time as well.


Occasionally, I would try to make it a fun trip. I stopped at the mall once, but when I turned my back on Jim, he wandered off. When security and I couldn’t find him, I went to the parking lot to check the car. He wasn’t there either. Security had just picked up the phone to call the police department when he came wandering down the hall.


Hospitalizations made doctor’s visits seem downright pleasant. In the hospital someone had to stay awake to make sure Jim kept his clothes on and didn’t pull out the IV. I was a physical and emotional wreck each hospital stay.


When I went for my annual doctor visit, which turned out to be bi-annual, my doctor and I were talking about how rough the past year and a-half has been. I told her we had lost several friends and family members for all kinds of health reasons, not just Covid-19. She said part of the reason was that people didn’t keep up with their health maintenance. She didn’t say, like me, but I have to admit, I was one of the guilty ones.


Caregivers have this health ignore symptom going on. I know that by the time I took Jim to all his appointments, I had no desire to spend any additional time in a physician’s waiting room. I always thought that was the ideal environment to catch a cold or get the flu. I’m still dealing with the after-effects of my neglect. I struggle with issues that might never have happened if I’d not neglected my own health during the stressful days of caregiving.


Waiting for the other shoe to drop means you are waiting for the inevitable. I knew what the inevitable was for Jim. I was living with anticipatory grief although I tried to convince myself and, everyone around me, that I wasn’t. I was in the purgatory of waiting for the other shoe to drop.


The other shoe may have been the only evidence that something terrible had happened. Outwardly, I looked and acted the same, as if nothing bad had happened at all.


Copyright © July 2021 by L.S. Fisher


Saturday, July 10, 2021

From Walker to Walker to Walker


When my kids were small, we put them in baby walkers so that they got a feel for mobility. I don’t think that it made them walk any sooner, but once they learned how to get their legs moving, they experienced their first taste of freedom. It was interesting to observe how they loved moving even if it was backwards.

I’m sure I didn’t have a baby walker when I was a kid. I probably learned to walk by walking between two people whose job it was to catch me when I got off balance. In due time, I became a walker without a walker.


After Jim started having memory problems, he and I walked in the Sedalia Memory Walk. We were Memory Walkers. The walk has been rebranded to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but the mission is the same. Last year, the walk was “everywhere” and we retraced the original 1998 walk route that Jim and I took. Our family group started at Liberty Park, walked to downtown Sedalia, and back to the park. The walk was more of a physical challenge than it was when I was twenty-two years younger.


When Jim was in the Alzheimer’s unit, he liked to pace. He paced day and night until he dropped from exhaustion. After he started losing his balance and fell several times, they put him in a merry walker, which is much like a baby walker for adults. Occasionally he would wind up in weird positions when he was stuck in a corner or against a wall. He was strong and occasionally turned the walker over splitting a lip or putting a knot on his head. Even with the mishaps, it was so much better than being stuck in his recliner all day.


Recently, Harold and I were having lunch at Liberty Park and it made me think of how a group of us from work walked in the park after work. It was a good way to get some exercise, reduce stress, and relax after a hard day.


Lately, walking has not been relaxing for me. Instead, I put off walking as much as possible. When each step hurts, it seems prudent to limit those steps. I also have trouble navigating when I stand up from a lying or sitting position. When I visited my ortho doctor to get shots in my knees, he suggested that I get a walker to use when I get up at night. 


The walker came in a package from Amazon and made me think of how life goes in circles. Kids use walkers and we “older” people use walkers. Was I really old enough to need a walker?


At first, I didn’t think I’d use it much, but I found that it helps me in a couple of ways. First, it saves me steps because I can load the seat with items I need to carry. I can also save myself from the strain of extra weight by using the seat. My doctor tells me that my knees don’t know if I’m carrying weight in my arms or whether I’ve just gained an extra twenty pounds.


Along with losing a few pounds, I’m slowly starting to feel better and have less pain. I walk more now even when I’m not using the walker.


I remember clearly a remark a woman made at an insurance benefits seminar I attended nearly three decades ago. She had arthritis and stood up with the help of a cane to speak. “I walk,” she said, “so that I can keep walking.”


I don’t remember her name, but I certainly remember her words of wisdom. I will always be grateful that she shared her insight to inspire me to be a walker as long as possible.


Copyright © July 2021 by L.S. Fisher