Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Lost Is Found--Sometimes

“What’s that in the driveway?” Harold asked as I stopped to check the mail.

 “I don’t know, but it kind of looks like my travel coffee mug,” I said. I grabbed the mail out of the mailbox and tossed it into the truck. “I’m going to check it out before I climb back in,” I said. It’s a high step for me to get in and out of the truck.


I picked up the object and, sure enough, it was my mug. “I set it on the edge of the truck bed before I left home,” I said. “I guess that’s how long it took to fall off.” The cup was a little banged up, but didn’t seem to be hurt any.


Lately, we’ve spent a lot of time looking for lost items. Things are not where they should be, and it’s frustrating. I was getting ready to drain the water off the spaghetti. “Where’s the strainer?” I asked. I was looking at the slot where the strainer has been for as long as I can remember. I finally set down the pot of hot water and spaghetti while I pondered where it could possibly be. I looked in every logical place and a few illogical ones. No strainer. Finally, I gave up and used a different one that I could find.


A few days ago, we were on the search for Harold’s small pocket notebook. He had written a bunch of measurements in it and didn’t want to have to re-measure. Well, I found about six of the little notebooks, but none had the correct information in them. I finally called a store we had been in to ask if they had found it. They had not. The search went on for two days, and finally Harold found it in his nightstand drawer.


I think that since we live in a huge house and have a large inventory of miscellaneous items, I can see why objects can be easily lost. Harold likes to buy kitchen gadgets and sometimes finding cubbyholes to store them takes creative rearranging. Anyway, that’s my excuse.


Yesterday, when I put gas in my car, I noticed one of my credit card slots was empty in my metal wallet. I dumped my purse and looked in every place in it. The search was on. I looked in the truck because that’s where I had used it last. First glance, not there. I checked out my smaller purse that I sometimes carry. It wasn’t there either. After exhausting all leads, I went back to the truck. I finally spied the missing card hiding in plain sight. It had slid against the side of the console and almost invisible.


The various searches makes me think of how Jim used to say, “Right here, but I can’t find it.” I know it was frustrating for him. Not only would he misplace or lose something, but because of aphasia, he couldn’t even tell me what he was looking for.


Part of the reason we lose so many things is that we are constantly distracted. Our electronic devices constantly ding, buzz, ring, chime, or interrupt with pop ups. My phone is paired to my car and the pickup. The pickup is several years newer and has more bells and whistles than my car. I was driving the pickup this morning and on my informational screen, a popup informed me that I had a text message and told me who sent it. Geeze. The only good thing is that my phone didn’t make any noise and thankfully, didn’t distract me more with the entire text message.


Through perseverance, or stubbornness, we usually find the lost. Still, after all this time, I cannot find that strainer. Harold thinks I might have thrown it away, but I don’t believe that. I will not go dumpster diving to see. If it’s gone, it’s gone, but truthfully, I think we will find it—eventually, somewhere, somehow.


Copyright © June 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Happy Un-Birthday

Recently, I had a birthday, but thought that perhaps I should have a happy un-birthday. If ever I chose to go back a year instead of forward a year, this would be the perfect time. Who knew that doubling my arthritis medication would make me feel ten years younger than I did a month ago?

 I was getting to the point where I wondered how much more pain I could take. Every step I took was painful. Bending made my back hurt. I couldn’t sleep because every time I moved, pain shot out from my knees upward to my thighs, downward to my ankles.


After physical therapy made me hurt worse, the rheumatologist’s next plan was to increase my medication and prescribe a round of prednisone. The second day on the increased Celebrex, I noticed my knees felt—almost normal! And that was before taking the prednisone.


OK, I’ve gone through short periods of time where I felt good for awhile. At least this time, it may last longer than normal. I feel more optimistic about my health than I have in a long time.


I was able to convey to the rheumatologist that my pain had reached a new level and something had to be done. I have an aversion to medications that only mask the pain. Several years ago, after surgery, I filled a pain pill prescription. I took a pill and vomited until my stitches felt like they were going to pop. I decided the pain wasn’t bad enough to suffer the consequences of the pain medication.


Jim lived with chronic pain throughout most of his adult life. An injury in Vietnam caused a fracture in his neck. He thought that surgery would put an end to it, but it didn’t work out that way. Several years later during an MRI, metal fragments were discovered near the surgical site. “Looks like a drill bit shattered,” the technician told us.


Jim lived with chronic pain, and we were constantly adjusting his medication cocktail to get the maximum benefit with the least side-effects.


After he went into long-term care, I still monitored what medications he was taking. I went to the home one night and saw Jim walking bent over with his hand on his back. “Have you given him his pain medication?” I asked the nurse.


“He didn’t say he was in pain so I never gave it to him.”


“Look at him! He’s walking bent over and holding his back. He doesn’t do that if he’s feeling good.” After discussion with the charge nurse, his new care plan called for pain medication on a regular basis.

Without watching for visual clues, it may be impossible to know when a person with dementia is in pain. Jim hardly made a sound for any reason, including pain. Sometimes, he would groan, but more often, he suffered in silence.


During the five years Jim was in long-term care, I could walk into his room at night and know if he was in pain. I could tell by the expression on his face. Sometimes when I walked in, he would get tears in his eyes. He knew I would get him the help he needed.


It was a blessing when I would walk in and he would smile or even just have a relaxed, pleasant look about him. In my mind’s eye, I can see him in his recliner glancing at the TV from time to time to watch a Chief’s game, a race, or a country music show. He never showed any reaction to the action on the screen. He just knew that was what he liked to watch and the staff was good to keep his TV on his favorite shows.


Jim never had any un-birthdays, but sometimes when I looked at him, I saw the guy that captured my heart the summer I turned seventeen. That was always a good day, and it always lifted my spirits to see him content.


Copyright © June 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Sunday, June 12, 2022

It's the Simple Things

A few days ago was sausage making day. My husband likes to grind and season his own sausage. I’ll admit it is delicious, but it is also quite a bit of work.

 Harold was browsing the internet trying to find a large mouth funnel to put the sausage into the food saver bags without touching the part that had to be sealed. “Why don’t you just cut the bottom out of a solo cup?” I asked.


“That might just work,” he said. Sometimes the simple solution is staring you in the face, but until you use your imagination, you don’t see it.


We’ve made some home improvements that will make upkeep and cleaning simpler. It couldn’t have come at a better time with my cleaning lady taking off the entire month of June.


Although we contracted the work, things were a little topsy turvy during the renovations. The bathrooms weren’t too much work, but emptying the bedroom for the hardwood was a different story.


During the process of going through things, I filled my dumpster. I was in a “love it or toss it” phase, and I rid myself of a lot of clutter. Still, you can’t just throw away everything, so we still have a lot of inventory. So far, I’ve not put much back in the drawers that were previously crammed full. I haven’t put anything on top of the dresser except a lamp and a clock. I love the sleek bare look. I suppose I’ll eventually put some of the photos and keepsakes back on it, but I’m in no hurry.


I’ve always cherished the simple moments in life. Most of my life was simple out of necessity, but that was perfect for me. I never had any delusions of being wealthy, and I never craved it. Jim used to want to win the lottery, but I figured it would just mess up my life. It worked out for us. I never bought any tickets, and he never won more than $750.


We enjoyed our road trips, camp outs, hiking in the Rockies, drinking coffee at Café du Monde, strolling through Old Town Albuquerque, or catching a show in Branson. We were just as happy having friends over to play music in our living room, or spending a day at Truman Dam. We loved spending time with family. After all, the basic happiness in life is spending time with the people you love.


My sister-in-law recently posted a photo of Jim and me that I had never seen. The photo is a little blurry, but I can tell that I’m wearing a sweater that I bought at the Goodwill store in Oregon while we were visiting family. I always underestimated how cold it was going to be and usually had to supplement the summer clothes I took with me. We didn’t just run into a department store and buy clothes—we went to the Goodwill, garage sales, or thrift stores. That was okay with me. If I could score a sweater for fifty cents or jeans for a dollar, it was a simple pleasure.


My idea of a life well lived is one with minimal drama, envy, greed, or stress. I am filled with gratitude for the amazing people who have influenced me throughout my lifetime. I remember so many good times I spent with my precious family and friends who have left this world for their final reward. In my memories, the days spent with my loved ones are the red-letter days that time, distance, or death cannot erase.


Copyright © June 2022 by L.S. Fisher