Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't Let Me Die In Front Of Wal-Mart

I am very tired - it has been quite a day. First though, our birthdays/anniversary yesterday was lovely. A long drive all along Long Island Sound - the water was the most beautiful of blues and the sky mirrored its majesty. The air was dry and warm and the smell of salt air filtered in to our senses and delighted us. We had a delicious seafood meal - sitting by an opened window, overlooking the harbor and the boats and seagulls and marina activity. The smells and sights and sounds inside and out were magnificent. Full of our scrumptious meal and salt air we headed home.

We watched our wedding video, as we always do. We laugh and cry in all the same places. Perhaps a few more tears this year as some family and friends close to us have passed on. Health issues have emerged and some shifting has thundered underneath and around us. Our laughter and joy was abundant that day - and as we held hands watching and remember we realized with great satisfaction and honor that every vow we spoke and promised to one another is still true today. Every word is upheld and sacred and for that we are filled with gratitude and joy beyond expression.

And so today - still on vacation we venture out to get a few things at Wal-Mart. A new toaster, some school things for our grandson - just because. And it was our plan to go to one of our favorite local restaurants for lunch. My mobility is still very limited and it wasn't long before I knew my knee could not take much more. Skipp happily offered to push me in my rollator which we often do if getting from 'point-A to 'point - B is just too much for me to endure. We were exiting the store, laughing and even kissing a bit like high school sweet hearts when my world turned upside down, literally!!!!

The wheels of the rollator caught in a gully before the exit door and I flipped over back wards slamming my head and upper back on to pavement. I saw Skipp reach desperately to stop me from gong over - I saw the look of horror in his eyes as he realized he was unable to stop the fall - I watched his heart break in his eyes - it was dreadful. As I lay there stunned, facing the sky I was so scared. I immediately began yelling "get the rollator off my legs, get it off!!!" Folks gathered and untangled me. I could feel Skipp now cradling my head looking for serious injury. I was so scared. I said, "get me up Skipp, I need to get up". He encouraged me to wait just a minute or so - I breathed and relaxed in to his hands and arms supporting my head and neck. And then I said, "Now, get me up now". He and two women lifted me straight up and I stood, a bit shaky, well alot shaky, but I stood.

The area was now buzzing with Wal-Mart staff and security - forms were out and questions were being asked. The knot on my head was HUGE and my upper back, upon which I hit full force, was beginning to spasm and tighten. It was hard to breathe. I sat. I knew enough to know that head injuries are serious and that I needed to be checked out. Skipp got the car and drove me to the Yale Clinic in Guilford, just down the road.

I was petrified. Skipp stayed by my side and we got through all the "check-in" protocols and I was brought back to an exam room. I was evaluated thoroughly - some concerns. A, CT head scan was ordered. No skull fracture, no subdural hematoma (bleed in to the brain). I was quite relieved. Meanwhile I am to be awakened every two hours tonight to be sure I am oriented to time and place. I have to use ice on the huge lump on my head and heat on my back and take Tylenol/Advil every four to six hours. I feel absolutely awful. Skipp is so broken hearted that he couldn't stop the fall. He keeps apologizing. I am reliving the "flip", like PTSD. I came up here to write and process and Skipp is watching an action guy movie. We each needed to be distracted in a way that works for us. We are both in such pain. Ya know?

Okay, so, what the F___?????!!!!!!!! I am working hard to recover from the MS setback and now I am dealing with a whole knew set of painful symptoms from which to recover. I am really looking for the gratitude - Oh wait, I know.....while I was flipping on to cement and hit the ground hard I had a quick thought, and it is quite funny what we do in times of extreme stress, I said to God - "please don't let me die in front of Wal-Mart. Well, my wish came true. Here I am.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Conclusions and celebrations

And so it goes...........I am quite relieved that summer is closing down. This oppressive heat and humidity certainly took it's toll on my health. Phew. I am still trying to get back to my 'normal' as far as mobility is concerned. I am certainly out of the crisis but have a ways to go. Evey step is a blessing. I mean that.

I am happy to report that the final paper work for my separation from employment was re-done and it is now accurate. AND, it is official, I was awarded the Social Security Disability, retroactive from November 2009. Hallelujah! So it is official, I am retired and disabled. Oh my goodness. Sobering and humbling for sure. As they say and I have written, "be careful what you wish for" :-)

Our birthdays and anniversary is almost here - August 29th is our day to celebrate. Well, every day is a celebration but August 29th is very special. Skipp and I were born on the same day and chose that day to get married, as well. :-) I wont be around much until after next Wednesday. Skipp has some much needed time off from work and we are going to bask in the relaxed schedule. Savor every moment of our life and love.

Meanwhile, I am doing my physical therapy and still about the same. My Mom is adjusting to her dialysis schedule as best she can. She is such an inspiration. One day at a time we are both okay. Amen. I so appreciate all of your love and prayers and continued support. And for all we have come through let's celebrate.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thanks Shen

Caught red-handed! My defiance was lovingly pointed out in a fellow bloggers post - 'Shen' - over at "Reunited Selves" was 100% right on when she said I was defiant about my right to be angry at God. I made it very difficult for anyone to disagree with "my right" Oh goodness, I was quite indignant. And all of you were so kind in response. Far more than I deserved, Really. Thanks Shen for the reality check - holding up the mirror - and ya, my anger was justified I 'spose', but I left no wiggle room for discussion.

I don't get angry often - hardly ever actually. It is exhausting and my face even looked grim. Eewwwwww. I think the better word is sad, incredibly sad. I was talking with my Mom this morning, and I said, "I am so sad you have to go through this Mom", and she answered, "Don't be sad, it has to be this way for me to live." Her acceptance is so humbling and so inspiring. She also said she understands because she feels sad that I have M S and wants to wish/pray it away. We both feel the same way about one another - wishing our health situations weren't so.

We have always had a strong loving relationship - it is a no wonder we hurt for one another. And so I have moved far from anger in to this neutral sadness that simply is. It doesn't mean I am not happy too because I am, but for now i am quite aware of the sadness I feel, as well. Shen, I can't thank you enough for writing about my post on your blog - it stirred alot and all for the good of self understanding. And as you and all of my wonderful blogger friends know and have shared, "Everybody Hurts", sometimes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Angry At God - today

The room was bright enough in a clinical sort of way. Over sized leather lounge chairs in dark blue and brick and green, lined the walls, all facing nowhere, or so it seemed. There were TV screens and oddly placed book shelves with a head phone set here and there. People faced one another but no one really looked or saw or cared for that matter. Folks were covered in those white hospital blankets and also assorted pillows and quilts and shawls and blankets they brought from home - some genuine attempt to comfort them, I imagine. Each had their own machine to which they were attached via tubes, one for taking blood out and one for sending it back after it is cleansed in the machine' Amazing process if you think about it. It is saving all of their lives and my Mom was amongst them all. So tiny - no more than 100 pounds - her colorful "angel shawl" about her neck and shoulders, her favorite pillows around her and her "Our Father" afghan. Her Rosary Beads wrapped around her small arthritic fingers, and there she lay, sound asleep. I watched her from the doorway for a while - not allowed in 'the room'. I was filled with so much emotion. first and foremost relief that she made it here - after three very near-death experiences, she made it to here. Next I felt incredible sadness as I tried to absorb the demands of this regiment of three days a week, four hours a day. She is tired and fragile and so brave. I ached for her, for this "life-sentence". And yes, I know all the reasons I should be so glad that such treatment exists, and that she made it to receive the treatment and on and on and ALL that is true - I am so grateful. But truth b e told, I am quite upset that she has to endure such a difficult health issue and demanding treatment schedule in her final years.

And me with my "I can manage to "live" and be active and present in life despite this MS setback and the pain and icy hot numbness of every freaking step I took today, again I ask, "WHY???" Jen drove and I rode shotgun as we traveled the half hour drive to the Dialysis Center to pick up my Mom. I cannot drive yet due to the muscle spasticity. What the f___!!!?

I have asked God so many times "Why", and again, all you faithful folks, please don't preach to me about God and his infinite wisdom and so forth, I KNOW!! I am just being real, I am really, really angry at God. My Mom has been one of His most loyal servants and lives her life in alliance with the teachings of Jesus, always. And such alliance, I know. will sustain her through this, I KNOW!!! Still, to see her, so small and frail hooked to that machine which is literally her 'life-line' - it was really hard to take in. I make no apologies for being angry at God, in fact I believe that when you have a really good relationship with someone. God included, it is safe to be angry and so I trust my relationship with God/Jesus will make it trough this challenge just fine. This is just where I am today after seeing my Mom for the first time laying in that lounger hooked up to that machine, it absolutely broke my heart. :-(

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wishes DO Come True

Some times what we wish for is, well, sobering when our wish comes true. For example, I have been in the twilight zone of filing 'social-security-disability' claim forms. A most grueling experience. Yesterday, I received notification from the 'Social-Security-Law-Group', ( a firm handling the process), anyway - I made it through phase one with "favorable onset." Apparently, cases are randomly selected to be audited in no particular order and for no particular reason and my file was chosen - it now goes to an audit team whose function is to make sure the state workers who completed the documents did their job accurately. But my point is that I wished for my case to be approved and as much as I was relieved that it was, - the fact that it was is quite sobering. I said to myself, "Holy-shit, I really am disabled!!" :-)

Moving along with the same theme - the post office left a 'notice' which said I had a certified letter - and it is from my employer. My heart skipped a beat because the Human Resources people and management are so inept. AND, I have been saying-writing-singing-waxing-poetic' communicating in every way I know that NO paperwork in my file can state that I "quit" or left voluntarily or anything remotely close to that. It is the ONE stipulation for my "long Term Disability" to continue all the way to the age of retirement. Even when I get SSD the long term disability pays the difference to meet my full benefit from them. AND clearly all doctor verifications state clearly that I am NOT authorized to return to work due to illness and managing symptoms which therefore I cannot perform my job. Here is a conversation I had with HR yesterday.......... I will be "me" and they will be HR (duh) :-)

Me - Hi, this is Gail Eichinger, How are you

HR - fine, how are you

Me - I am okay. I am calling because I received a notice that I have a certified letter from Rushford. Do you know what it is about?

HR - Oh, it must be your pink slip.

Me - Oh, okay - do you have a copy in my file?

HR - yes hang on

Me- what does it say

HR - it says your date of hire and your last day of employment July 20th this year and the box checked off for the reason you no longer work here

Me - what box is checked off

HR - voluntary

Me - Voluntary? I didn't leave voluntarily I was told by my doctor I cannot work

HR - well, there is a box for 'other' and a space to write but it is a rule that we have to check voluntary


HR - oh, I don't know if I can do that

Me - I want to see the written policy directing you to lie and reflect a person's reasons for separation from employment falsely.

HR - hang on I am going to ask someone about this

HR - hi again, okay, I will send out correction stating the first slip was in error. I will check other and write medical.

Me - you personally are going to take care of this?

HR - yes, me personally.

Me - I will be waiting for your correction.


Talk about ridiculous, huh?

In as much as I am so relieved to be finally 'free' of the spirit breaking grips of my employer it is also quite sobering to have over a decade of service come to an end. This along with the SSD phase one approval are both long time wishes and harsh realities of, well, my reality.

So as a few final details are dangling before me, - the audit and the pink slip correction it is time to move beyond. Oh, but wait - I am in the throws of this MS setback - which, is quite limiting. Hmmmmmmmmmm, I drank a lot yesterday which eased the symptoms considerably - perhaps a constant flow of wine is the answer. :-) Seriously though, I am coming to realize something. I must find a way to keep moving and doing and enjoying regardless of the painful limits. I am not saying that I should not honor my reality or be careful and safe, rather I am saying that I can be in pain sitting on my couch or out for a nice ride with Skipp. I can have icy-hot numbness and pins and needles at home or out and about with Skipp or a friend or being with my Mom. I am praying for tolerance and the ability to live with the limiting pain and be more "alive". Quite a balance, huh?

Wishes do come true.

Monday, August 9, 2010

His name is__________

The heat and humidity have returned. But alas, such is short-lived. I see the shadows and hues dance across our dining room table casting off deep purples, magenta, hunter greens and earth browns - the sun line on the window is blurred and the over tones cover the brightness - all sure signs of Autumn approaching. Hallelujah. I have seen golden leaves tossed about and our thick, lush garden is going to seed to preserve it's life for next year and protect its roots against Winter's force. Oh the cycles of life, the seasons of change and preservation - that which must die and the promise of new life to come.

I was humbled by an experience my Mom shared. She said, "I didn't like dialysis in the hospital because they wheel you in to the room in your hospital bed - it made me feel more sick, (she went on to say), and I really felt badly if the little boy was was there too." I waited and said, " a little boy Mom, oh how sad.". She continued, "I could her him crying out - "OW" loudly as they got the needles in place for his dialysis, and then I heard them calm him as the machine started to work and then I heard him softly moan in a fluttering soft cry- it broke my heart and I hear him in my mind and heart all the time so I just keep praying for him." I was silenced in tears listening to her. His names is_____________.

Please pray that his fears are calmed and his pain is eased. Amen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I am not asking for much, really, I'm not.

I made it to Yale to see my Mom. Only because Skipp drove and then pushed me along in my rollator. I was traveling backwards - weird, very weird. We laughed all the way through the very long winding corridors - he, of course, enjoying the opportunity to, well, have some fun with the unavoidable reality. And there she was, with a shawl about her shoulders - a gift from the 'hospital angels' - a volunteer group that knits or crochets these lovely warm shawls for patients. She explained that it is very cold in the dialysis room. She went on to tell of a dream - we sat there clinging to her every word. She dreamed of her mother who died 50 years ago this past April - a hard working woman - raised six kids on her own after my mom's Dad died at age 39 of pneumonia. In this dream her Mom was reaching to her telling her not to b afraid and to come home. My Mom said she was holding her Mother's hands and then let go - and she told us she was scared and not ready. Phew.

She has had three dialysis treatments and will have a fourth on Friday. Her site 'held' - it worked,. "Thank you" all for your love and prayers and sending good energy and healing, hopeful light. :-) Amen. Hopefully she will be strong enough to come home on Saturday. Her schedule to go to the dialysis clinic will begin next week, three times a week , four to five hours a day. Please continue to pray for her strength and fortitude through this demanding regiment.

I am still in the midst of my healing challenge from the MS set back. I am on another medication for a week. And I am waiting for the physical therapist to come and evaluate me here and design a routine to help ease the pain and increase my mobility. I may need to see an orthopedic specialist that will be decided next week some time. Meanwhile I am moving about daily as best I can - the intense pain has eased and I can take ten to 12 steps pain free and then it starts to tighten and hurt and the icy hot numbness intensifies. I can also walk without the rollator for a few steps now where before I could not. Although it is way safer to walk with the rollator so I don't push the heroics!! :-) I am glad when I can get outside to our deck and really soak up the sights and sounds and smells of nature. I feel free when I am outside. Needless to say, I have a ways to go. And I don't know what the "end" of this set back will look like and feel like in terms of mobility and pain to which I will have to adjust. I am hoping for the best and managing as best I can. Ya know?

Skipp and I still enjoy our Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We sleep in and then have a leisurely brunch and enjoy our coffee on the deck. Later, we barbecue, and have wine and "happy-hour' and watch movies and enjoy our Gracey-Blue We catch up with house stuff and with each other (use your imagination), we go for rides and talk and listen to our favorite music and Skipp usually grocery shops. We love every moment of those two days we have together.

And August 29th is our wedding anniversary and BOTH our birthdays. Yes, we have the same birthday and we were married on our birthdays in 1996. Cool, huh? :-) August 29th is a wonderful day of celebration!! And Skipp has the week off!! "YAY!!!

And then it is Autumn - Hallelujah. I always feel better once the weather turns cooler and drier. This has been a very oppressive summer - and the heat and humidity are such a challenge for me. And yet I came to realize something about MS. I am doing all the right things to fight this disease - and still it flares up. I believe that my ability to adjust to the next phase or limit is as important as fighting off the nest phase or limit. Sometimes they clash and I must adjust. I am doing t hat now - one step at a time, or perhaps one less step at a time. And I don't say that in a 'ho-hum-poor-me' way, not at all. It means I know when it is time to make the best of what "IS" rather than wishing for what "ISN'T"!!! I am not there yet with this set back but I will know when that time comes, if it does.

Hopefully my Mom will come home Saturday, as planned. My daughter is going to bring me over on Sunday to spend the afternoon with her. I/we wil bring lunch and keep her company. My sister has to work. I ask again that you all please pray for her strength and for mine too. I don't want to navigate the Appalachian Trail I just want to manage, with little difficulty, being able to get to my Mom, and out and about my neighborhood and town. ok? Too much to hope for? I sure hope not.

And although the following video is dedicated to hurricane and flood victims - I believe, that we all are fighting our own battles - when my Mom couldn't breathe she was drowning in herself - her own inner flood - her fear as she wondered if they would get to her in time - her own emotional hurricane - my fear of immobility - and constant pain - I can be a surge of emotion like a flood washing over me or tossed about in the force of a hurricane - so please, watch and listen to this video with all due honor for the victims of floods and hurricanes but also, please, think of your own personal floods, hurricanes, and how you fought to survive and make it as best you could.