I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Things are looking up

Spring flowers on my front porch
Whew! That was really a doozy of a bug I had last week. When I woke during the day (and night) last Saturday, I couldn't believe how awful I felt, and Sunday was not much better. You know I'm sick when I don't want to eat or drink and am too sick to read posts or even open up my laptop. I did, however, write those paragraphs because of a sense of duty to my readers. I couldn't just do nothing at all. But what really surprised me was how muddled my brain felt, as if it were wrapped in cotton and unwilling to function properly.

And here I am a week later, sitting in my usual spot in bed with my laptop and tea, and everything feels normal again. Almost, anyway: I still have residual nausea now and then, which is so unusual that I notice it with interest. Every day I am a little better. As I wrote on my other blog, Friday I visited my doctor about my knee after having had to wait a couple of weeks after the initial injury on April 7. It was a good thing I did, though, because in a little more than two weeks, the knee continued to improve until I no longer had to limp. I've learned a great deal about knees during this time, including finding out just what it is that hurts when you tear the meniscus (which is what I did).

Menisci have no nerve endings, but one's knee is encased in synovial fluid, and that's where you get all the pain and suffering from. And as explained by my doctor, an injection of cortisone into the knee would be an option if in another two weeks I'm still in pain. But to tell you the truth, I am amazed at how good it feels already. He also suggested an MRI, and I told him that I didn't think I would be a candidate because of a previous injury to my pelvis. When we moved here I pitched all my x-rays (but now I wish I still had them for comparison purposes). He ordered a pelvic x-ray so it can go into my records, and I learned some interesting information, including that I can indeed have an MRI with my hardware. At least, that's what the radiologist thought; I'm not going to rush into having one, and it seems it won't be necessary quite yet.

Yesterday after I went to the coffee shop to visit with my friends and quaffed my latte, I decided to go for a walk down to Boulevard Park along Bellingham Bay. Although the chance for rain was minimal, I took my raincoat just in case, but it only spit on me once or twice. I walked a couple of miles to the bay and back without pain, with no limp, and I was simply ecstatic thinking that perhaps next week I can join the ladies for my usual Saturday walk. (I have to admit that by the end of my excursion the knee said it was time to rest.) They were going on hills and covering more than five miles yesterday, so I knew it was too soon to attempt it then. I will also not join the Thursday Trailblazers quite yet, since the scheduled hike is rated moderate to hard, and nine miles. If I'm good and take it slow, I should be ready to join them by the time they head up to the High Country in June.

I have removed the phrase "push through the pain" from my vocabulary, now that I have accepted that my knees can continue to carry me around as long as I treat them well. Oh, and another wonderful thing happened when I went to my doctor's office: they always weigh and measure me whenever I come in for anything at all, and I was a FULL INCH taller than I was in February! Part of the difference, I believe, is the time of day: it was early in the morning before gravity had a chance to pull me down, but perhaps the yoga is also helping. In any event, it sure made me happy. I forgot to mention it to my yoga teacher; she had said at the beginning of the semester that she thinks yoga does help to make us carry ourselves more upright. When I am being measured I try everything I can think of to stand up straight!

I am now officially a part of the WAHA (Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement) team of volunteer facilitators who help people write their Advance Directives and have already notarized half a dozen documents. It's rewarding work (but it really is work) and I'm glad I waited until I found the right place for me to volunteer. I go in once a week, on Mondays, to either work with clients in their initial visit, or at the end when they are ready to finalize the documents, and then I copy and distribute them. One copy goes to the local hospital, where it is scanned and flagged on the medical records as being available in case somebody ends up unable to speak for him- or herself.  The other copies go back to the client to give to their agents and other family members.

The people are so different from one another in the ways they approach their end-of-life choices, and I've already learned a great deal from some of them. One person was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and she decided to get everything done herself since a family member might opt to put her body in space until a cure is found! Another has decided to prepare packets of memorabilia for each family member, complete with mementos and pictures of times past. I would never have thought of that myself, but it's a wonderful idea when you have time and energy to do such a considerate thing. 

There are difficult clients, too, but each one has been a lesson for me in how to approach that period of time between my last exercise class and hospice care. It's a strange thing for me to realize that I've got no family members to emulate for this period of time, since everybody went and died fairly young. No nursing homes, no lingering deaths for the Stewart family. At least not in the last generation, which was before statin drugs made such a huge difference in life expectancy for those of us with the tendency towards heart disease. That took Mama, Daddy, and my son Chris. And it's part of the reason that I exercise faithfully and watch my diet. That, and I really enjoy a good sweat.

So, as you can see, life is percolating along just as it should for me today. No sudden illness this week, injury to my knee continuing to improve quickly, and my garden mostly planted. I got several vegetable starts into the ground yesterday, since I was pretty sure it would rain last night, and it did. Today I'll go out and see if the plants look happy, and if they don't, I'll get down there next to them and have a conversation about what they expect. I'll be listening to see if they have anything to tell me about what they might need. What, you don't talk to your plants?

I've been enjoying reading the short stories of Alice Munro. Some blogging friend suggested her, and many years ago I read a couple of her collections but had moved away from short stories for some reason. I'm finding them just right for me these days: I can read a story and put the book down and do something else for awhile. Absorbing novels or memoirs tend to keep me rooted to the spot for way too long. I didn't realize that Alice won the Nobel Prize in 2013, but I can certainly see why. She's brilliant and I cannot recommend her books highly enough. One story that I read yesterday just wouldn't leave me alone, so I went back and read it again. Then I perused the final two pages of the story several times, marveling at how much she managed to say between the lines. I've got her daughter's memoir waiting for me to pick up at the library so I can read more about Alice's life.

Ah. It's that time again: I'm seeing daylight through the drawn curtains, and a couple of sighs and snorts from my partner make me realize he's coming up out of sleep soon. I've got posts to read and news to peruse, comics to enjoy, and breakfast waiting to be consumed. Life feels really good this morning, another beautiful April day, and my coffee shop friends must be gathering themselves up to make the trek for our upcoming Sunday morning meeting. It's usually pretty lively in there on Sunday mornings so I should get myself up and start my own meanderings towards joining them. I'm hoping that this is a good week and good day for you and yours. Be well until we meet again next week! 


Linda Reeder said...

I'm looking out my upstairs off ice window and seeing dark clouds. The ground is wet from a recent shower. I'm wondering if I should head out for my walk anyway, and can i get the impatiens planted like I want to before we are due at Irene's 1:00 soccer game.
But first I had to check in with you this Sunday morning. You sound very upbeat. I'm glad to hear that your knee is healing and your volunteer work is satisfying. I'm going to gather dome energy from your post and get going!

Marie Smith said...

Glad you are feeling much better and so upbeat.

I love Alice Munro and her stories as well. She is a master.

Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have recovered from the virus as well as your bad knee. Keep going!

Far Side of Fifty said...

You sound positive and cheerful this week!! I am glad all is on the mend in your world! I am certain you are a blessing helping those people through their end of life directives:)

Red said...

Helping people with end of life documents must be very satisfying for you. Yes people are certainly different. I'm sure you're raring to go with the knee. Take it easy on the tough stuff like hiking.

Tabor said...

Your flu sounds like a really bad one, hopefully there was no food poisoning involved as well. Do you know others fighting a flu? Take care. And working through the pain is misunderstood phrase, I think. Pain is our bodies way of telling us there is injury. Yes we should endure it for a short time but also admit the area needs time to heal. You sound like you are ina much better place.

Sandi said...

Glad you are "all better" and facing the world with your usual positive attitude! Interesting work you are involved with. Good for you to find your niche to help others.

I'm still a bit selfish with my retired time. Maybe I'll be more willing to volunteer more in a while. For right now, I already seem like I'm busy enough!!

Gigi said...

Yay! So glad to hear you are doing better! Before you know it you'll be back to all your usual activities.

I had to laugh at this line..."it was early in the morning before gravity had a chance to pull me down" It is one that will stick with me, I think.

And yes, I talk to my plants too. As well as plenty of other inanimate objects. Despite what people think, I believe it's perfectly normal.

Rian said...

DJan, don't you just hate to be sick... but when we think about those who haven't been blessed with good health and have been sick most of their lives... then we realize how well we have it and know that our general good health is something we really need to be grateful for.
I also think your WAHA volunteer work is wonderful. It should be most helpful to those in need and very enlightening for yourself.
Glad you are on the mend!

shortybear said...

happy that you are feeling better

The Furry Gnome said...

Good to hear that "Life feels really good today..."

Anonymous said...

Happy to hear that you are feeling better now. Take care of your health. Health is wealth!It's true that if our health is not proper we will not have interest to do anything.
I too love to read short stories.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Glad to hear you're back to your usual self! I like that you removed that phrase from your vocabulary!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, It's great to hear that you are doing so much better! I hope the occasional nausea is gone soon! Your positive attitude and feeling so well on a Sunday morning is catching ... I think I feel better now after just reading your post ... and it worked on a Monday! :-) Wishing you a fine week ahead!

Rita said...

I had to remove "push through the pain" from my vocabulary, too, many years ago. Was hard because I had believed that all my life. But when you come to a wall with your body and pushing makes it worse--well, it's a whole new game. ;)

I was queasy for a good week after my flu bout. Food tastes pretty good again now finally. So glad you are feeling better, too!! And your knee is getting better--whoohoo! Yes! I talk to my plants--and Karma, the microwave, car, laptop, tea kettle, pens, the visiting birds and jackrabbits--you name it. I believe everything has some form of energy...that I try to treat with respect. I don't think Karma has ever thought we live alone--LOL!

I read some of Alice Monroe's short stories in college and loved her! Have a wonderful week, my friend!! :)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

So glad you are recovering from the flu AND the knee issues. Hadn't thought about Alice Munro in a long time...thanks for the suggestion!

Barb said...

It sounds like you're on the mend. I'm so glad the knee is feeling better. Sometimes, it pays not to rush back into exercise before something heals completely. (Though I'm often impatient.) Alice Munro is a favorite of mine.

Glenda Beall said...

I am delighted that you are feeling so much better, DJan. I missed your post last week and I worried about you being sick. So happy to read this post. Take care and don't push yourself before you are ready.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Statin drugs have been disputed for nearly 10 years now at reducing cardiac events. And there is now some evidence that lowering cholosterol has a damahing effect on brain health since that is now on the rise.
Your involvement with the people seems interesting.
Glad you're on the mend.