Geesh. I’ve started this post over at least five times now. Apparently my drunken pixie-muse has passed out again, abandoning me. He’s visited quite a bit in the last few weeks, but he never stays long, and he comes at inopportune times — like when I’m driving to work or spending a non-laptop weekend with family or being pleasure-serviced by my naked houseboyman Miguel. OK that last one was just a dream but I certainly didn’t want to leave it to type on a damn computer.
So I’m just going to string together a series of potentially unrelated paragraphs, mmkay?
The OCD chatterdevils in my head want me to write some sort of transition post. They tell me that, since I only posted six times in 2009 and an uberpathetic *one* time in 2010, I probably need to address the “WTF?” questions bouncing in your heads. I keep arguing with them that they are being waaaay too presumptuous to assume these questions — not to mention readers — actually exist. But you know how OCD chatterdevils are.
Oh. You don’t?
Anyway, they tell me I should write some sort of summary of the time that’s passed, and, of course, it is essential that I put a positive spin on it (please imagine these words spoken in a sarcastic, snobbish, old-Southern-money drawl). Like a list of reasons why 2010 didn’t suck stinkyass butt. Or a description of things for which I am grateful. Or a list of new and exciting perversions I’ve nurtured. The post should be a perfect balance of pensive reflection, humor, optimism, and OF COURSE irreverence.
Let’s see if that happens.
Winter and spring rockalong pretty well
2010 started out FABulously. I was training with old runbud friends, out there in my VERY favorite running weather. There’s nothing like a healthy, pumpin’ heart 10 minutes into a 35-degree joggytrot. Lovelovelove freakinlove it. The group experienced some unfortunate interpersonal strife, but we came together on race day and completed Greenville’s Reedy River 10K in early March. Invigorating!
Something else cool was that I dug deeper into my social media obsession. You know I’m not happy unless obsessed, right? Luckily, my interest coincided with some initiatives at work, so I raised my hand high and became able to integrate the fun into my workdays. Have been feeling the buzz ever since. And buzzing the feel. Which is way more satisfying than copping a feel, at least when comparing longterm benefits.
Nursed a small tinge in my foot for awhile, but I kept in shape enough to continue regular running with friends, and went on a hardcore hike or three. Nature really sets me ‘right.’ Some people sit in church. I take deep breaths of fresh air. Ran another 5K race in May, and right after that started training for a half marathon. I didn’t really think I’d do well with that longer distance, but I gave myself permission to walk as much of the 13+ miles as necessary. About this time I also started an intensive strength training regimen, and in mid May, I bought a bike! Soooo excited to have a new type of challenge.
Whap, whap, whap, whap
Whap #1. Here’s where the year started to s u u u c k. Only a few weeks after getting my new bike, I crashed it twice on the same day during a 26-mile ride up the Swamp Rabbit Trail & back. I’m considering changing my story to a 26-mile trail ride at Paris Mountain, though…that is soooo much more impressive than accidents on a flat paved trail, don’t you think?
I thought I just had a deep bruise or two in my left upper arm and shoulder, but as the weeks and weeks went by and the pain didn’t get better, I made an appointment with my superfave orthopaedist for late July.
Whap #2. Overlapping all the other midyear whaps was an ongoing bunch o’family stuff that I won’t discuss in great detail now. Maybe later. The “stuff” was basically two-fold — my mom’s move from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom apartment in an independent living facility… and my sister’s declining health. Planning, busywork, moving, and medical research and education blanketed nearly all of our free time during the summer.
Sadly, these were the last times the five of us would spend together.
Whap #3. Another ongoing annoyance was some weirdness in my own health. These topics are beyond dull — just a few getting-older issues which, while temporarily draining me of time and energy, I’ve since gotten under control. Mostly. I will warn you right now, though, that the constant ringing in my ears will — I repeat, WILL — drive me to insanity one day. Hoping to plan ahead so that I snap in some sort of interesting or entertaining way. I’m open to any ideas.
Whap #4. So. The evening before my scheduled orthopaedist appointment in July, my ankle mysteriously gave way during a run in the park. Something twisted and crunched and I went down, grinding my knees hard against asphalt and into lots of gravelly debris. Ouch. I limped pathetically to a nearby stump and sat there, blood streaming down my calves, while runbud-angel K rushed to get her car. Several bikers and runners stopped to check on me while I was waiting….I imagine I made a pretty distressing sight. :)
Diagnoses, healing, and settling in
The next day at the doctor’s office I made lots of jokes about old rickety women pretending they are still 25. They poked, prodded, and x-rayed all sorts of body parts and properly dressed my knee wounds. I left that day in a boot cast and with instructions to cease and desist physical activity until further notice. Within a couple weeks, I’d had an MRI, been diagnosed with a hard-to-heal tear in my shoulder, declined a recommendation to see a surgeon, and started what would turn out to be six months of physical therapy.
The sprained ankle healed relatively quickly, and the knees got OK eventually, but the shoulder….UGH. I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to do some common movements again, much less any serious upper body work. But I had an awesome therapist, and I refused to quit, bygollydammit. I started getting optimistic early-Octoberish, and nowadays I’m noticing gains in strength and flexibility almost every week. I’ve kept it up even since “graduating” from my therapist’s care last month.
My mom got somewhat settled into her new place, absolutely fawning over the staff and facilities. We got everything out of the old apartment, unpacked into her new apartment, and began to help her get organized and truly settled in. We decided to take a bit of a break, though, so that my mom and sister could get some extended rest. Finally, my sister began to take steps toward managing her own health, seeing various sorts of specialists for advice and minor procedures. She, her son, and husband went on a nearly 4-week vacation to Florida. She returned in early October, happy to have had the time away, but utterly exhausted.
Should I mention here a brief li’l relationship o’my own? I don’t really want to, but those damn chatterdevils won’t leave me alone. I guess it’s significant because for a couple months or so it created some blissful moments during a time when I really needed some respite. It also catalyzed an epiphany or two — which is always, always, always a good thing.
An email to family, October 21
“Hi there, I hope everyone’s doing well. I have some news about my sister — please forward so everyone can keep her in their prayers.
“Dianna’s husband Ray woke up about 3am Tuesday morning to find her unable to breathe well. She’d had chest pains (mild) on Mon evening and had been out of breath a lot for several days. They called EMS, who took her to Laurens County Hospital who very quickly sent her to Self Regional (Greenwood) for congestive heart failure. They slated her to go to the heart cath lab Wed morning for angioplasty at 7am, but on the way there she had a seizure. They gave her medicine to alleviate that, but then she threw up a significant amount of what they called “coffee grounds,” i.e., dried blood. At that point they abandoned treating her heart condition temporarily to investigate the other stuff.
“It has been a roller coaster since then. Today she’s had a constantly upset stomach, pain, dizziness, and three seizures since the first one this morning. The doc has ordered an EEG and a CT scan to try and determine the cause of the seizures. They are adjusting meds and doing everything they can to stabilize her enough to even get her downstairs to do the CT. Friday they hope to do another diagnostic stomach scope.
“The heart attack appears to be the result of one partial blockage in the left side of her heart. I am still a little unsure about the details of this. At first Ray was told that the heart muscle damage was only 2 percent, but this afternoon the doc had another chat with him (I was in town running an errand…just my luck) and implied more damage to the left side of her heart than had been originally communicated.
“Today Dianna has mostly been asleep, but has woken up now and then. Not feeling good at ALL. At one point she asked me ‘What’s going on? I feel like I’m dying.’ It occurred to me that maybe people had been talking around her rather than to her and she might be really scared. I reassured her, and hoped she understood. She fell asleep very quickly before I could tell her any details. She is sleeping an extraordinary amount even though they aren’t giving her anything to specifically make her sleep. Her nurse seems perplexed at that, but did say she’d received a lot of the seizure-relieving medicine. They are watching her very closely and I’ve been impressed with the staff’s diligence.
“Mom is of course antsy, worried, and frustrated that she can’t be at the hospital. But she is receiving a lot of support from the staff and residents at her new independent-living home. I’m going to do my best to visit with her this week and weekend, but she keeps telling me she’d rather me be with Dianna.
“Ray and Johnny are tough troupers, although the worry and stress really got to them both this afternoon. We all know Dianna is a rock of strength and stubborness, but it is very hard to see her like this…..sigh…..
“Dianna is in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit). They are not currently putting calls through to her room, though, and won’t until she is feeling well enough to receive them herself. I’m sure she’ll be there at least through the weekend….probably into next week. They haven’t even begun to treat the original heart problem yet.
“Thanks so much for forwarding to others in the family….as you know, Dianna believes in the power of prayer and I am sure she’ll feel everyone’s thoughts and well wishes around her.”
The next day
My sister died. We all knew she was very sick, but I’m at a loss to describe how completely shocked we were. I watched the doctor’s face closely as he told us, waiting for some sort of punch line or reassurance that “…she’ll have a tough recovery, but with time she’ll be herself again.” I couldn’t tear my gaze from his tired, sympathetic eyes as he did not speak these words. I wanted to urge him to go back in her hospital room and double check. I wanted to explain that he just doesn’t know how tenacious she is. It couldn’t be true.
I’m afraid I’ve dumped a whompin’ huge load o’bummer bricks on my naughty little monkeyblog, so I’m going to abandon the story there. For now, anyway. I considered not posting this self-centered chronology at all, but in the end I thought it might provide a better frame of reference for you devoted mm readers. (Ahhh, the presumptuous ego of my little chatterdevils surfaces again!)
You see, I’m not exactly the same person I was eight months ago. And I’m pretty eager to meet the person I’ll be eight months from now. 2011 is decidedly promising, full of good friends, family healing, healthy pursuits, and interesting insights.
Plus I have a brandnew, deep-redvelvet piece o’potential depravity in my fireplace room. Stay tuned.