Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


6 Comments

Are You a Lead Foot?

gray rock formation
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

I hate to admit it, but I have fallen over the COVID cliff. I’m quite familiar with bouts of depression. I am quite familiar with severe bouts of depression. This is similar, but somehow there is another element to it that I can’t put my finger on.

Earlier this week, the only way I could describe it, was to say I felt like I had lead feet. That is ironic because I’ve had so many issues with my feet and surgeries. Then I realized that my whole body pretty much feels like that. I’m certain someone put a brick into my head when I wasn’t looking. My chest often feels the same.

Every step I made that day felt like I was dragging heavy metal with me. No matter what the task.

Paralleling that, it seems like my clients have similar diseases. Many come in and melt on the couch. They cry, look like they’ve aged, and say gut-wrenching things like, “Then I realized, why am I even here anymore?”

One inspiring ray of sunshine came in this week. A family that spans four generations and is spread across the USA have scheduled Zoom meetings every three weeks. It’s a book club. They are reading “White Supremacy” a few chapters at a time and then discussing it together.

Wow!

You can get your family to agree to that? And they actually read it? And get on the Zoom? And discuss things without yelling at each other?

This topic comes up quite often in my home and in my office. There are usually bitter disagreements, cutoffs, and plenty of anger. No matter what your position is, what could it hurt to read a book together? Even if you disagree with the opinions in it, to put the effort into reading and the dialogue afterward is still a unifying gesture.

I have to admit, a good share of my misery has to be sleep deprivation. I can’t seem to get to sleep at night. I find myself awake at 1 am… A few days later it is now 2 am. Last night, it was 4:45 am until I fell asleep. Getting three and a half hours of rest a night is just not enough. No wonder I have headaches and no motivation.

But I do eventually get up when I can garner the strength to move my heavy body (literally and figuratively). I see my clients and am present with them. I make phone calls, do computer work, deal with electricity going out, the internet going out, and being placed on hold for 1 hour and 52 minutes only to find out I have to start all over again the next day. (That is a literal, non-exaggerated number!)

And the usual gratitude reminders spurr me on. Literally every person in the world is going through this. Many folks have it much, much worse. Many deal with grief and loss, and mourn loved ones who died alone.

I guess we all keep hanging in there and figure out how to get through each day, even though none of us knows what the heck we are doing.

I will be there for you. I’m hoping you will reciprocate!


Leave a comment

Dancing with the Stars

We had a girls’ night at the drive-in this weekend. I’ve been watching the website all summer and have had no interest in seeing any of the old flicks again. Then I hit the jackpot. Grease and Dirty Dancing.

Coincidentally, I have been thinking a lot about Kelly Preston, who is John Travolta’s wife. Seeing that young John and the way he could wiggle his buns and skinny body made me wonder what it would be like to be Kelly. For sure, I could see myself often in the living room or bedroom saying, “Come on honey! Do that thing you do!” I would withhold sex until he re-enacted a few of those scenes.

He was adorable and sexy in that musical. And he is also quite acquainted with grief in his life. A few years back they lost their 16-year-old son. Many couples end up divorcing after the loss of a child, but Kelly and John made it. And now Kelly died this month from breast cancer in her 50’s. Poor John.

I don’t mean that in a pity, pendantic kind of way. Seriously, poor John.

Next was Dirty Dancing. What a classic. I couldn’t wait until the end of the movie when we all could say out loud, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Baby is adorable and sexy as well. But Johnny? Wa wa wa. That man could also move his thin, incredibly fit and muscular body in a very sexy manner. Jeepers. He got my motor running too. That movie didn’t need a rated R bed scene to make it steamy.

And Patrick Swayze has died of cancer also. It was a few years back but he died much too young.

Bittersweet. No matter how famous, how vibrant, how healthy… Well, we all meet death and grief. I know it’s probably because of what I do for a living, but even as I got totally swept up in the chick flicks, I never stopped thinking about the real people underneath the characters they play. Real people living real lives, experiencing real death.

Fantasy intertwined with fact.


2 Comments

Accident Prone

I’m not sure why I am so accident-prone. I’ve been clumsy since I can remember. Is my brain too pre-occupied? Am I overtired? Perhaps I am too much in a hurry. Is it because I’m always on the move?

It’s probably all of the above. Maybe at the same time, maybe for different incidents.

This weekend I finally made it to my boyfriend, Tim’s cabin. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. When it is finally finished, it will be amazing.

Before we left, I had Tim help me pick the raspberries. Every day we have to go out because they are in full swing. He was holding the container for me which is much more efficient than me doing it myself. Except when you turn and hit the container and every single raspberry falls in the grass. We crawled around on our hands and knees until we got them all.

Next, I had to get my pillbox packed. I have one of those two-week ones so I don’t have to fill it as often. When I grabbed it, it dropped on the ground. Every single pill (4 per day) scattered on the kitchen floor. Son of a bitch!

I put the container on the counter and finally got all the pills in the right slot. When I tried to shut the cover… Yep. Spilled one of the weeks all over the counter AGAIN. Didn’t even bother swearing this time.

We pulled into the cabin site a few hours later and immediately Tim helped our friends back up their camper to the most level spot. Within five minutes of being there, I hit my leg on the rusty fire pit. That was lovely. Luckily, my friend had a first aid kit.

Let’s see. What else happened? I think everyone had a favorite story of the weekend.

While walking on the property, the uneven terrain was sometimes wet. It is covered by fosses and ferns of different textures. I was doing ok until my left foot got sucked down (about 6 inches I would guess) and I knew if I tried to step up, my sneaker would be gone. Swallowed in who knows what.

Luckily, my brain kept up and I stood still. Those damn sneakers were the kind my podiatrist wanted me to wear post-surgery. They were expensive and the only pair I have.

With help, I finally escaped with my sneaker intact. It was soaked and full of water though, so I couldn’t wait to get back to the cabin and get it off.

Then there was the time I was sitting in the lawn chair with a cold beer in the drink holder and my cell phone sitting next to that. For no apparent reason whatsoever, I lost my balance and the beer fell over. Got my phone wet and more importantly my clothes. Last pair of shorts I had, beer-soaked. This made my friend giggle.

Another favorite was when we were packing up. I had our two metal marshmallow sticks in my hand and also an empty glass bottle for recycling. Someone said, “Hey Darcy! Be careful. There is a bee in that bottle.”

Now they didn’t yell and they didn’t sound alarmed. But I glanced at the bottle, saw the bee, and freaked out. When I jumped, the metal poker scratched my thigh. When there was no blood (unlike the time I nailed the fire ring) my other friend giggled.

He also suggested I sit in the air-conditioned camper and relax. I thought that was a great idea so I went inside and shut the door. At least I tried to, but I pulled the plastic slider right off the door. Thank God it was an easy fix but I was definitely on a roll.

The last event of the weekend was to go to the watering hole again to cool off. I decided to stay put. The group agreed for safety’s sake that I just wait at camp. Who knew what could come next.

I’m sure if Tim and my friends read this, they will remember more stories I have forgotten. Never a dull moment.

Sigh. I can never lose my sense of humor.


1 Comment

You Put Your Right Foot In

It started the summer I stepped on a piece of wood with rusty nails. It looks like there are six nails in my foot, but only one actually pierced my skin. Still, my poor right foot. Topped off a few days later with one of those infection red lines up the back of my leg. Nice.

Next was the surgery for Plantar Fasciitis. In spite of an extremely successful surgery on my left foot, when it came to my right foot, it was a no go. Sixteen months later, I was still in pain and unable to walk much. I got used to motorized shopping carts and that wasn’t safe for anyone.

Topaz surgery came next. This was in hopes of helping it to start healing. Four months later, I had to admit I was much better. I have pain when I am on my feet too long, but so does everyone else. I credit my Physical Therapy Whisperer for this. She worked with my foot in a way no one else did. So much more effort and it paid off. I reluctantly got discharged from therapy. I was scared to stop going.

Two weeks after that, I am walking in a store. I hit my foot on the corner of two pieces of wood. Can you guess which foot? Yes, the right one. It felt like when you stub your toe, only it was the middle of the top of my foot, right where my sandals didn’t cover me. By the time I got home, it looked like this.

Completely swollen. A giant bump, right above, that’s right. The five small scars from my surgery. Like the word right because it’s my right foot.

Two days later, it looked like this.

This bizarre dark purple outline of my toes and another lovely shade of purple covering the rest of it. (Good thing purple is my favorite color.) It actually didn’t hurt except the third night when it hurt like hell. After that, not really. Freakin’ weird. My therapist told me to get an x-ray. The x-ray says no broken bones, just swollen soft tissue. I’ve had at least two medical people tell me the radiologist is nuts.

My poor right foot. I get embarrassed when someone asks what I did to it. I should make up some ginormous story. People would believe me because it looks hideous.

It is a tradition every summer that I end up in the emergency room or something similar at least once. I have it done already and it’s only the beginning the July so I’ve got that going for me.

Which is kinda nice.


5 Comments

HIPPA

Privacy is great. Protecting our privacy is great. I may be missing something, but sometimes it seems to go too far. When HIPPA laws (designed to protect ME, I think) prevent me from my OWN information, that doesn’t make much sense to me.

It reminds me of the guys I know that got into a physical altercation and both ended up in the emergency room. What was the fight over? COVID restrictions and how to keep themselves safe. Ironic, right?

I’ve had my own two experiences this week. I somehow was able to get a desperately needed appointment for my client without having the four-month wait. My client knew about – and wanted- me to contact the doctor. I emailed him, which is the only way I could reach him. I knew a phone call was a pipe dream, especially because I only had 24 hours.

I called the office to make sure they asked the doctor to read it. Oh, we can’t accept any information by email. HIPPA. Can you fax it? No, I can’t fax it. I don’t have a fax machine anymore. Can I scan it for you and email it? No, nothing by email.

But the client says he is not only comfortable with the email but wants it sent. I believe it is HIS HIPPA rights that he wants to waive for a more important goal. I don’t get it.

The second incident was with me. I went to my foot doctor for post-surgery checkup. During therapy, I got an x-ray because one leg is slightly longer than another. My primary doctor had to order it because ordering a leg x-ray is out of the scope of a foot doctor. Now I thought that in and of itself was kind of dumb because my leg definitely affects my foot, but whatever.

I sent the results to my primary, to my foot doctor, and my physical therapist. (It was my therapist’s idea to begin with.) When I signed in for my appointment, I asked the receptionist for a copy of my report. Sure.

She comes back and says the printer isn’t working. Ask Kim when you go into the room. (Ok, but couldn’t you have done that? Customer service?)

I go into the room and ask Kim. Absolutely not. We didn’t order the test so we can’t give you the results. But it’s MY results. I have a right to my own records. Nope, you have to ask your primary because she ordered it. But I am the one that asked for the results to be sent to you. It’s MY HIPPA rights you are trying to protect. I am here, not at my primary’s office. She remains resolute.

I think you are wrong but ok.

I looked it up on my phone while I was waiting for the doctor. I’ll be damned. She is right. Unless my primary is DEAD, I have to get the results from her.

I’m sure I don’t know all the reasons the law is written that way. But as a consumer, it lacks common sense. Thanks for protecting me, but shouldn’t I have the final say about what I want protection from?

I don’t get it.


2 Comments

Afraid of Writing

It’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged, which is unusual for me. I blame three weeks of that on having my grandkids with me. There is some truth to that, but the bigger truth is that I’m scared to write.

I write from my heart. From my experiences. It’s always been that way. I’m not good at making stuff up or having someone give me a topic. It has to mean something to me.

I’ve had folks tell me to write and not post it. While journaling has been a powerful therapeutic tool for decades, I’m also an extreme extrovert. Things don’t mean half as much until I share it with someone.

I’ve learned over the years (the hard way) that when you put something out there, you invite people’s opinions whether you want them or not. Going public requires being willing to have people disagree with you.

In theory, I’m totally fine with agreeing to disagree with people.

Something is different now. I thought the last election caused a lot of division. But this pandemic makes that look minor. As if that wasn’t enough, the protests and riots started. (I’m not commenting on the necessity of it, just the unfortunate timing.)

Talk about division.

I tend to try to find truth on every side of a situation. I think the way you talk sometimes is more important than the content (sometimes). I’ve been preaching about communicating without being divisive for quite a while.

Something is different now.

I wonder if it’s just my perception, but if my fear is coming out these days, it’s the aloneness I feel because I don’t know how to connect with people like I used to. Even people I’m close to.

It seems like the polar opposites have moved miles further apart when I didn’t even think that was possible. No matter what I would say, I know people I care about will be pissed off or offended. Side A. Side B. And the worst would probably be saying anything remotely in the middle.

I think that would be hated most of all.

So I haven’t blogged.

I hope it’s ok to blog about not blogging.


Leave a comment

Don’t Do This to Your Family

I have been teaching/lecturing/educating for a while now about having your affairs in order, no matter what your age. People that have had to deal with the aftermath of a death that wasn’t prepared for will be the first ones to make sure they don’t do the same thing to their loved ones. Most of the rest of the population will say they don’t want to be a burden after they are gone.

I did have one client though that told me he has a cantakorus relationship with his son and he can’t wait to stick it to him after he’s gone.

Luckily, most people aren’t like that.

I have been working on the case of a woman who died recently. No, it wasn’t COVID19. I had worked with her previously while she transitioned to a smaller home and then I wanted to start getting her organized. She was very stubborn and frankly, also a bit nasty. She didn’t have any intentions of cooperating.

I just spoke to her attorney. She told me she had several times recommended many of the same things but she had refused to change any of her plans to make it simpler or easier.

Now, I grew fond of her and am truly sad she is gone. But I also have cursed her several times in the last week. There is no reason that taking care of her affairs had to be this difficult. It is exhausting and maddening.

It makes me more passionate than ever about my job. I keep trying to help PREVENT this from happening. I speak loud and long about taking steps before you are old, and before you have a medical emergency. You will get better care every step of the way. You will be able to focus on the crisis when it comes, without having to add panic to the mix.

I try not to be too judgmental, but I just have to say this before it burns out of my skull. I think it is selfish to not be responsible with these things. I haven’t come across a good reason yet to not be prepared. It can be very detrimental to your well-being, and it is definitely overwhelming for the people you eventually leave behind.

DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR FAMILY!

Get prepared. Get informed. Don’t be lazy. Don’t think you will do this “later.”

One of the advantages of doing things early in the game is that you can slow down the process so it doesn’t drown you. About two years before my dad died, we started working on his notebook. (This notebook is the now the model I use when teaching and doing workshops.)

Every couple of weeks we would tackle one task. We started closing bank accounts until he eventually only had one checking and one savings account. We spoke to a financial advisor and slowly cashed in his investments. There weren’t many and they weren’t large, but such things can be a nightmare for an executor later on, especially if they go into probate.

I could list many more things. But I can’t stress enough, DO IT NOW. Do it for yourself and for God’s sake if you have aging parents, DO IT YESTERDAY.

It’s not very painful unless you wait. If it isn’t done, you have a headache every day and fantasize about jumping off a cliff.

Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox. Please, give it some serious thought. And reach out to me if you need guidance.


5 Comments

Fun at Physical Therapy?

I’m not any different than anyone else during this pandemic. My only outings every week are to physical therapy. I’ve gotten into a routine now with two other patients. They space us out but there is a brief time we overlap together. At the end of my session, I usually beg Nancy to let me stay longer. Don’t send me home!

Nancy is a very talented therapist and we all know it. She also has a sense of humor so we can give her a hard time because we KNOW she is great.

One of the men obviously has more pain and a longer road to go down than I do. He is usually in a separate room but we crack jokes back and forth. He calls PT “premeditated torture” instead of physical therapy.

Nancy has this streetlight analogy she uses. It drives us crazy. A green level of pain is preferred because it means you are still ok. I did tell her that it’s not easy being green. She thought that was funny, but it turned into bigger laughter when it was quiet and I started playing Kermit singing that song on my phone.

This man has two canes to walk. I can hear and see when one of them falls. I yell out and ask if Nancy has knocked the cane out from underneath him again. He says of course she did. I told him he was lucky because she usually kicks me.

Today was out of control. We exchanged the usual banter and were really proud when a therapist who wasn’t usually there said she wanted to stay in our unit. We are much more fun than other therapy rooms.

I was balancing on the balls I’m supposed to walk on and I look across the room. It was the first time I had seen this guy on the bike. And it was the first time I realized that he had a prosthetic for a leg.

“Oh my God!” I yelled louder than usual. “Nancy, you’ve gone too far this time. The poor guy’s leg fell off!”

Raucaus laughter. I wondered if I had gone too far but he said he has loads of jokes. One time in a hospital he put his leg on backward to freak people out. His sister is making him a t-shirt that says, “Don’t pull my leg. Seriously.”

Later in the session, Nancy asked him how he was doing. “How the hell do you think he’s doing, Nancy? His leg fell off!”

Then it got really bad.

Two of us are laying on tables and our guy is still on the bike. Nancy yells over to him, “Do you need help getting off?”

I couldn’t stand it. I burst into laughter, which started everyone else. The other woman was telling me she had it under control until I had to go and laugh. Leg-guy says the same thing. Nancy says, “Was the only one who didn’t get it?” The three of us say yes in harmony.

Eventually, it was almost time for me to go. By now, Nancy really does have to help him off the bike. The two of them are standing together and she asks him if he needs help. “Getting up?” he says. And the raucaus laughter starts all over again.

Nancy says the redness in her face will probably last forever.

The woman next to me says we really need to get out more.

You said it sister.


2 Comments

Confusion and COVID19

Perhaps many of you have already seen this, but take three minutes to review this or watch it for the first time.

I haven’t seen anything that reflects what I have been thinking about and experiencing as accurately as this video does. I am already not a news follower, but if ever there is a time to shut off the information, it is now. I find that the biggest and most relevant news out there I hear through conversations with people. I get what I need to know, but avoid the overwhelming amount of bad news. I also avoid banging my head on the wall because of trying to sort out the truth with all the conflicting information.

I think almost every statement in that video clip is something I have heard. But I’m not telling you anything new. My point is not to alert people to the fact that there is confusing information bombarding us.

My point is this:

With so much confusion, how can so many people feel like they know exactly the proper way to respond to this?

I have heard so many people speak with great authority about their opinions. They have lots to say about those that do not agree with their assessment. It has caused tension and has bruised relationships. The media never lies. The media always lies. I’m listening to the government. I’m listening to the Department of Health. I’m not making any changes. I am taking extreme precautions.

And every position between those polar opposites.

Could we be a little kinder to each other? We don’t have any research or data on the last three pandemics America has been through to offer the best practices to deal with this. The fact is, none of us know for certain how to best handle this. None of us. And the facts- the numbers- aren’t even facts. I can give you more than one frightening example of ways numbers have been skewed. Of course, that implies my sources know the truth. See what I mean? Why speak out when you can’t be certain of anything?

Let’s all just do the best we can. Make the most responsible decision for yourself and others based on your understanding of what needs to be done. Give it a real and honest effort. Don’t be lazy and don’t be selfish. But after that, don’t judge anyone else either.

Personally, I watch my clients who are nurses caring for COVID patients the most closely. I’ve known them for years and I’ve known their ethics and sense of personal responsibility. I also know they would cut off a limb or give their life for their children they think are the most precious gift of their lives. Whatever precautions they take to protect their own families is what I trust. That makes sense to me in my heart of hearts.

But that’s just me. You should do what you should do. And I respect that.


3 Comments

Back to Music Roots

I have a thumb drive in my car with all my music on it. It is, of course, organized by genre, and then alphabetically by artist, then by song. I happen to be on my Christian music files and I have to believe that it is not by coincidence. I find I’m needing the tunes and the songs as I greatly miss the spiritually fufilling act of singing.

It is usually also a walk down memory lane. In my conservative days, I loved Steve Green and Sandi Patty. They have highly trained voices. I was able to meet Steve Green when I was in college. Many years ago, I was able to meet Sandi Patty. Both of them were my “conservative Christian music” idols.

I’m enclosing a link to one of my most favorite songs. It is a duet with Sandi Patty and Darnell Harris. I love the words, but the music and harmony give me chills every time I hear it. Once I was able to sing it in church. I can’t even remember who I sang it with, but it was like a dream come true. We did a good job, but I guarantee it was nothing like the recording. I mean NOTHING.

I listened today as I sat in a drive-thru line. I tried to sing along but I am so terribly rusty. I had goosebumps though. Then I listened to it again silently and soaked it in. I had goosebumps again, from head to toe.

Now that I found the link for this blog, I just listened to it again. Goosebumps, from start to finish. And this time I cried.

My soul is so thirsty with this pandemic. My extrovert needs are starving. We just got a piano in our house today that we rescued from the garbage down the street. I’m going to start playing every day and I’m going to start with the Christian music I have.

I believe all music comes from God, but this kind of music is feeding me the most.

Sandi Patty also has a song that says, “We love to lift our voices Lord, because every time we do, we’re singing Your song to You.”

Singing is deeply spiritual to me and I’m so grateful that it came to me today. I needed it desperately.