Tag Archives: Rest

A Change is as Good as a Rest.

This past Saturday morning I wanted nothing more than to snuggle deeper into the covers and stay there. After a month of early rising and little sleep, I wanted to remain in my cocoon and hide from the world.

The very idea of rising to shower, dress and leave the house when there were no appointments to go to seemed like a punishment I didn’t deserve. But my daughter-in-law had put me on notice.

While we were all consumed with being at the hospital, she quietly took over the care and feeding of the troops, including the out-of-towners. And she paid special care and attention to my granddaughter.  We didn’t know what to tell her, she being only six. My first impulse was to protect her and tell her nothing. But how to explain the sudden disappearance of her beloved Pa?

My daughter-in-law handled it all, quietly and efficiently. So quietly and efficiently, I began to feel guilty. My son was a constant at my side, and took turns with me spending nights at the hospital, while his wife was left alone to carry the ball for the whole family.

I made a mental note to do something for her, someday, when I was not so tired, but she got ahead of me. She was taking me out to lunch and a massage she said. And though I reluctantly got out of bed and left the house that morning, leaving my son at home with his dad, I felt a little lighter by the time we made it to the corner a block away.

It turned out to be the right medicine for me. To move away, just far enough, just long enough to breathe free air.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch of specialty pizza with a lot of much-needed sangria. And afterwards we walked down blistering hot streets to the massage place. Even the boiling sun felt good.

The massage hurt, though I’d asked for light to medium pressure to be applied. Too many tense and knotted muscles in my back. Later when we compared notes, I found out that her massage had hurt too, for the same reason.

Nonetheless, it was a good experience. The dim lighting, the gentle, soothing voice of the masseuse and her otherwise healing touch, the sense of letting go and just allowing myself to be was something I hadn’t realized how much I needed until that moment.

Now I have something else to be grateful to her for. And I still need to come up with something to do for her.

Us, a few Mother's Days ago.

Us, a few Mother’s Days ago.

 

 

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Powering Up

timeSometimes when sitting at my desk, I become engrossed with what I’m doing, and though I have a readout of the time on the bottom right-hand corner of my computer screen, as well as a clock hanging on the wall right in front of me, I lose track of the time. Consequently, I forget about lunch. I forget about eating.

The other day, I was having a conversation with my six-year-old granddaughter. She’s reached the age where she can actually converse and she’s interested in everything, always full of questions.

This day we were talking about batteries, and how their function is to provide power. We discussed all sorts of batteries, from toy batteries to car batteries.

“Where do you get your power?” I asked her.

She thought for a moment and then shrugged, downcast. “I have no battery,” she said.

We happened to be sitting at the dinner table alone, my husband and her mom both delayed at work that evening.

“You have power right on your plate and in your cup,” I told her. Her big brown eyes got even bigger as they took in her chicken, rice, broccoli and apple juice.

“I’m eating power?” she asked, incredulous.

Back in the day, what mostly powered me through my work shifts was a healthy dose of adrenaline. In all the years of hot-footing it on cold, hard hospital floors I can count the times I actually got a lunch break.

I mean a real lunch break, where you leave the unit, walk to the cafeteria, fill your tray and then sit and eat leisurely like they show on TV. Or walk outside, find a bench and eat your bagged lunch under the healing heat of the sun. I think I got to do that maybe five times in all, and that might be an exaggeration.

On rare occasions, I got to go across the hall to the nurse’s lounge (an oxymoron of the first degree) and try to eat what I’d brought with me, or what another kind soul had gotten for me during a food run. The only problem with that was that there was a phone on the wall and everyone knew where I was.

A lot of the time lunch consisted of a bottle of Pepsi, from which I’d take a swig as I rushed through the nurse’s station on my way to another ICU room. It had power: sugar and caffeine.

In President Vicente Fox’s memoir, Revolution of Hope, he writes about his time as a truck driver for Coca-Cola saying, “In Mexico, poor people drank Coke and Pepsi as food.” It seems surreal that I would end up doing the same, only in my case it wasn’t for lack of money. The currency I was short of was time.

I still see myself practically running headlong down a never-ending, solitary corridor that was enclosed with green-tiled walls. I, too, was green. A new nurse dressed in green hospital scrubs, my scrub gown flowing behind me like a green cotton cape as I sped along. It was the middle of a long twelve-hour night and I’d reluctantly left the familiar confines of the ICU.

It was my turn for a food run and the vending machines were in the basement of this 1000-bed hospital. I power walked through that corridor not only because it was spooky down there, but also because the minutes I was allotted were precious and few.

My fuel of choice was usually a slice of pecan pie. It offered a delicious concoction of power: sugar and calories. As a result of this frequent indulgence, I ended up gaining the freshman 15 after I graduated from college.

I think of all this sometimes when I finally take time to eat in the course of my day. This year, I’m spending Thanksgiving in the Deep South, awaiting the new arrival. I think I will request a pecan pie be added to my son’s table, just so I can savor the memories.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by your loved ones. Don’t power up too much y’all!

Nightgowns and Shoes

I’ve been on a nightgown-and-shoe-buying kick lately. I know, strange bedfellows. I don’t think I want to know how many nightgowns I’ve bought, but I know how many pairs of shoes, three.

Why this particular bent? It does go deeper than mere materialism and is far more consequential than just acquiring more to stuff in my closet, for I soon realized I’d been subconsciously heeding the call for rest and comfort.

What triggered this consumption? The Great Prednisone Failure of 2015. My failure, my 2015. The experiment was a total bust. The pain came back. The hands, the feet, the general malaise. After a few weeks off Prednisone my body sat up and noticed. Hey! What happened to Pred?

It didn’t just beg the question; it screamed it. So I scurried into the safety zone, the metaphorical orange-cone ring made up of little white pills.

“You know what to do,” my rheumy said when I confessed my shortcoming. He proceeded to share how he handles flares with the help of our common little frenemy.

I nodded. Yes, the tiny, precious pills that can wreak havoc within your body in so many ways, and in the process grant you the ability to get up in the morning without feeling like a tin woman who needs a squirt of oil into every single cell.

“I want quality,” I said. “Not quantity.” Now it was his turn to nod. I’d rather have five good years and not twenty bad ones. He understood.

In the midst of renewed pain, sleep took supreme importance. Sleep is a great pain reliever, if you can get it. And so in direct correlation, I concentrated on updating my sleepwear.

Nightgowns are the only thing I like to sleep in. Sometimes I prefer silky soft, sometimes cottony soft. The style must needs be flattering, comfortable, and not bunch up under me. Sometimes I swear I’m related to The Princess and the Pea character. Every little wrinkle in the sheets drives me mad and I have to pull it straight. I’ve made my husband promise that he will keep my bed tidy when the day comes that I can’t do it myself. I doubt he will, but it makes me feel better to know he promised. 🙂

The brand matters not, so much as the cut and the fabric. Color matters in that it affects mood. I tend toward black, so refined, so elegant and sexy, too, because why shouldn’t you look nice while you’re sleeping?

And if sleeping is important, getting up and staying up is much more so, and that’s where the shoes come in.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am partial to Clarks. One day, I came across the most comfortable pair in the entire universe, not hyperbole I assure you, at least according to these feet of mine.

Their only drawback was that they were only available in white and it was way before Memorial Day, when I would have license to wear them according to fashion dictum. I couldn’t remember the last time I owned a pair of white shoes. It might have been back when I was wearing saddle shoes to grade school.

But there they were, on sale, and they fit deliciously. Or as Billy would say, they felt mahvelous. I took them home and when I went online to search for a pair in my signature black, there were none to be had in my size. I did find a similar style with the same cushioned footbed.  When they arrived I was pleased to discover they fit just as mahvelously. Since then, I’ve added a third pair in beige and am debating whether I need the navy ones, too.

Perhaps I don’t, after all black goes with everything, and pain-free feet go with eeeeverything. My heels don’t hurt anymore, no matter how much I walk in these shoes. And they were. The pain intense, indescribable, every step jarring needles poking me.

These sandals take me everywhere. I dress them up and dress them down. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll down the Art District, a dinner/movie/drinks date or just chugging up and down the grocery store aisles, these babies come through.

I am back on a very low dose of Prednisone, a tiny buffer between me and the pain. He mentioned injectable Methotrexate as a possibility. I said I would take it under advisement. We shall see, but we shall see in comfort.

"I wanna put on my, my, my, my, my, boogie shoes." -- K.C. and The Sunshine Band

“I wanna put on my, my, my, my, my, boogie shoes.” — K.C. and The Sunshine Band

Sleep Talking

I used to wonder why we even slept. It seemed such a waste of time.

I remember regretting having to sleep back when I was raising young children and holding down an evening job. I would wake early, and having never been a morning person made that a hard thing to do. I’d get my kids off to school and when I got home the couch was like a magnet drawing me in. Just for a moment, I’d think. Just for a moment.

I’d wake up close to noon, astonished it was so late. Then rush to do a full day’s chores in two hours’ time. Shower, dress and drive down the block, park and wait for my kids to round the corner from the school and hop in. If I drove the last half-block to the school I’d get tangled up in all the Mom traffic and never make it to work on time.

After a few never-ending minutes of craning my neck to see around that corner, I’d hotfoot it down to the hospital, pull up at the daycare on the premises, unload my kids and my guilt for the day. Drive to the parking garage, power walk to the building, run upstairs (I could do that back then), clock in, and then wash the day away as I went about my nursing duties. Nothing else existed for me during those eight-plus hours.

After midnight I’d reverse the process, help/carry my sleeping kids inside, tuck them in their beds and collapse into mine. If I was lucky I’d be asleep by 2:00 a.m. And then by 7:00 a.m. the cycle had reset.

I slept like the dead back then, the sleep of exhaustion. I was on my own those days, my husband sailing the ocean blue for months at a time as a merchant marine. I needed a jump-start every single day. Even so, I berated myself; I could be so much more productive if I didn’t have to sleep the morning away!

I forgive myself now that I sleep the sleep of the needy. For if I don’t get enough sleep, whether all at once or in several doses, whatever aches I may have go up the pain scale. I can count on that; I can solidly bet on that.

My rheumatologist understood this before I did and offered me Flexeril years ago. It’s a muscle relaxer which has the side benefit of making you drowsy. I try my best to remember to take the small dose most nights. Sleep is crucial for quality of life and allows some wondrous processes to take place.

And with sleep, as with story writing, setting can be of vital importance. I decided I would make my bed as conducive to sleep as I could, and wondered how best to dress it. I knew hotel sleep always seems so much more refreshing, the beds plush and inviting. I wake rejuvenated, refurbished even.

I figured it had to do with the novelty of my surroundings, and the letting go of daily obligations for a while. And then I read this article. It was because of the white beds, it said. Aha, I thought, I can do that.

“These sheets feel so awesome,” my husband said, sliding between them for the first time. He’d never commented on new sheets before, or even noticed when there were new sheets. I decided not to clue him in as to why they might feel “awesome.” After all, a little mystery goes a long way.

But I’ve noted that his bits of insomnia have disappeared. He no longer complains about his new career keeping him awake. Perhaps it’s because after several months he’s settled into the job. Or perhaps it’s because of our consistently snowy bed.