How I Recovered From My Scary Depression

My granddaughter Reagan told her parents after a March visit that “Grandma slept all the time”.  Despite taking a yoga class to get me settled into a Zen state, I ran right into a roadside I couldn’t “see” because I was so rattled. Sad, blue and feeling panicky about another tough thing happening from the moment I got up, till bedtime when I dreaded going to sleep knowing I would wake up ruminating about some unknown, but certain, imminent tragedy.  Somehow, a variety of big, and many little, events had tipped me from a “little off” and sad at year end, to depression by late January.

It was frightening, and something I cannot remember experiencing before.  By April I was determined to work like hell to crawl out of it and get back to being my neurotic, but basically very happy, self.  I swore never again would I let myself get in such a dark, disturbing place.  And yes, of course I got “professional help”.  My shrink is not only great, he is funny and comforting.  And he reminds me when I forget that ultimately, much of being better is committing to being better, and taking responsibility to change what is not working for what will.

Am feeling pretty good, if not great, today – and it is mid June.  What happened to lift me back up?  The truth is that since I made that firm decision to heal, multiple decisions, events and pieces of support have all helped to clear my head.  And, like many things in life, luck played a part too.

Mid May we left Tucson for our travelling time.  We live in Tucson, Arizona, but come May when it starts to get uncomfortably hot for us, we travel to other places till about mid October when the weather again suits us back home.  We came to New York in May and rented an apartment not far from our daughter and her family in Westchester County.  The change of scene has been a big part of lightening my mood.  We have already taken a couple of mini trips to further mix up our schedule and get away from depression triggers associated with my home in Tucson, which is where I was when the deep blues hit.  It will be fine to go back come October even if I don’t spend money on a deep spiritual healing of the space.

I have also taken the strategy one of my dear friends taught me: being one with something tangible in a room or place – just keeping my mind quiet and focused on a chosen item for a few minutes is very useful.  I am calling it “the tree is me” strategy – pointing mindfully to a tree ahead while walking and just “urging” myself to stay “with the tree” rather than letting my mind ruminate and repeat endless loops of negative nonsense.

And then, there are my many wonderful friends like Betty who called me everyday once I told her what was going on. Cathy P. wrote me emails and tailored my workouts to include pep talks. There was Janice who held a spiritual session where she worked on me breaking bonds with a sad and dangerous habit I had fallen into.  Donna had me over for dinner and listened when I was pretty awful company. Cathy B. set up a date to meet and go to a spirituality center for a special meditation. Pat told me about her journaling effort during one of her depressions and suggested I try it.  And the list went on from there of friends who I mentioned my sadness to who just turned around and offered love and help.

Another really big help was my 50th high school reunion.  I’d been part of the planning process so I was very much excited and invested in the activities.  Seeing, and more importantly, sharing with women who I had shared my adolescence with was amazing therapy.  We weren’t older versions of ourselves – we were new selves that were developed by our history, the lives we have lived, the choices we have made, and the way we have connected and loved ourselves.  The biggest way to know how people REALLY were faring in life, was to listen and watch for how happy they were with who they turned out to be.

Not everyone or even most anyone has the luxury of having the level of support and caring that I do.  Friends were my priority always (in many ways equal or more than family which I am also close to). Their multiple ways and approaches to helping me, coupled with our ability to create changes of scene, proved the golden recipe for dealing with my depression. I want to end with a quote another friend sent me that summarized the heart of much of the wisdom so many shared.

“There are only two days a year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is he right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” –  Dalai Lama

Patty

Being Selfish and Staying Positive

Sad to say, but I’m usually not the “glass half-full” person in the room. I overanalyze things, considering what could go wrong rather than what could go right.

Over the past few months, my glass-half-empty feeling has been stronger than usual. I think it’s because of the incessant barrage of negativity about our country and the world that is becoming harder and harder to avoid.

Given my family history and current health, I am figuring that I’ll probably live into my 90’s – another two decades. I’d like those years to be as happy as possible.

So, here are a few things I’ve been doing recently:

I’m not watching TV network news

  • Today’s broadcasts are much more “in your face” and intense than in the old days. By the time 28 minutes go by and I watch the last two minute “Here’s a happy story” story, I feel the need for a strong alcoholic beverage.
  • That’s not to say that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world. I just don’t need to be bombarded with heavy drama every night. Reading selected magazine or newspaper articles, or watching an occasional video on my iPad works just fine for me.  I stay informed without feeling the need to hit the booze.

I have seriously reduced my time on social media

  • This past week, I decided to block all national news media postings on Facebook.
  • I also used the unfollow option with people who primarily post political opinions or news stories they have decided are important for everyone to read. Most of the posts are negative on one side or the other … we won, you lost, you’re stupid, no you’re stupid, he’s stupid, she’s stupid and on and on.  I realized that I can still be “friends” with them and visit their tirades anytime I want and they won’t even know I’m not following them. A win-win!
  • I signed up with Facebook so that I could scroll through my news feed to see photos of my step-     kids and grandkids, to find out what my friends and family members are doing on this year’s vacation, and to post pictures of my beautiful dogs and/or my handsome husband being adorable.
  • My “news feed” is much smaller now, and I’m a lot happier.

I’m spending time with positive, happy people who don’t need to solve the problems of the world over dinner.

  • Enough said.

It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in the country or the world or that I don’t have strong opinions. In fact, I can get pretty riled up about things.

And, I’m really happy that there are people who are passionate enough to speak out on both sides of political issues, to take up causes, to hold others accountable and to work to make a difference.

Maybe it’s selfish not to get more involved. But, I am, after all, one of the “Me Generation” Baby Boomers.

So, my current mantra is …..

Care to join me?

Cathy Green

Wouldn’t It Be Great To Be Surprised With Something “Fabulous”?

I have been thinking about the challenges of the last number of months.  I got to thinking what would be the IDEAL – if not a fantasy set of things to happen that would just be fabulous beyond my expectations!  Here are a few – maybe you can work on your own list…

Someone in my family who hasn’t worked in two years just got a brand new job – better than any he held before.  He was just looking at an online job site and he saw the opportunity that has turned into gold.

A wonderful man meets my friend at a Starbucks and they are already having more fun than she has had in the last 2 years.  He also loves to read and take long walks in parks and is great looking.

My product launch is so successful – none of us involved can explain the huge pile of orders coming in daily.  The good news is not just the orders but the fact that the perfect people we need to hire to meet our surging success are appearing without much effort so we are not only making great money – but not having any worries about meeting demand for our services.

Our friends sold their house for more than they expected when a couple drove past their house and saw the ‘for sale’ sign.  The couple stopped, asked to see the home and then put in an offer later that same afternoon – of course, all cash and over asking price.

At my high school reunion, no one mentioned any illnesses, job losses, depressions or accidents happening to them or anyone in their family or friendship circle.

My scale says I weigh 125.  All my old size 6 clothes have reappeared in my closet just as this moment occurred.  Luckily they look like clothes appropriate for 2017, not 1987, when I was last 125.

My sister has called to tell me that she is so happy with all the advice I have ever suggested, and she is definitely going to take all my ideas and strategies.  She also wants my advice on men she may start dating – but not before I meet them.  She wants my approval first.

While browsing for a new phone someone noticed my finesse with technology and suggested that I should work in a store that sells nothing but the latest technology products, which to me, are just intuitive.

The waitress said: Here is that cheesecake you ordered.  It is the new type: no lactose or calories but tastes exactly like New York cheesecake.

Even I am getting a sugar overload by now hearing about these over the top happenings.  But you know, it would be nice, wouldn’t it, to have a day of such surprises?  The laugh I am getting out of this is going to have to make me smile even though I am not exactly buzzing with fun feelings.  It’s been that kind of challenging year.  But then, I feel a change in energy may be happening – a move toward better outcomes.  Maybe if I close my eyes and wish on a star ONE of these might happen.  We’re all due for a happy break, aren’t we?

Patty

It would be great to be able to talk to Mom again on Mother’s Day

This will be the 13th Mother’s Day that I haven’t been able to talk to my Mom or send her cards, flowers, nightgowns, or candy. Emphysema took her just after Mother’s Day, 2006.

At 66, there are many things I’d like to talk with her about, including the challenges of growing older.

During that discussion, I would have to admit that I didn’t fully “get it” when she was in her 60’s and 70’d and told me about the aches and pains (and indignities) of aging.

I definitely get it now, I would tell her.

I think she would laugh.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Cathy

Mom and me, 2005

My Husband’s Advice to His Daughters

My husband, Ray, often writes thoughts and stories in one of the many journals he has owned over the 28 years I’ve been with him.  Sometimes he writes about growing up in a small town in South Carolina, sometimes about music, sometimes about a great night on the ocean or in the mountains, and sometimes even about me. He’s a great storyteller and writer and I’ve enjoyed reading what he has shared with me and others.

On January 21, 2010, he wrote some advice for his two daughters. They would have been in their late 30’s at that time, with children of their own.

I asked him if I could share this journal entry with Fabulous Over 60 readers. He agreed.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

“Some Random Notes about Class and Style and Life”

By Raymond Green

Being wealthy doesn’t give you class or style. Class and style are about wit, manners, intelligence, the people you spend time with, the way you entertain others, the books you read and the way you handle key events in your life.

Class is treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Class is being well-spoken and well-dressed.

Class is having good manners, knowing what’s right and doing what’s right.

Someone of quality shows empathy, not just sympathy. Empathy goes well beyond being well-mannered.

Spend your time seeking wisdom and always share that wisdom with your children.

About money – make it, invest it, spend it, and give it away.  Remember: “From those to whom much is given, much is required”.

About giving money away:  It’s interesting. When you give it away, it seems to keep coming back.

Sometimes you will want to give with no strings attached and no expectations of a return. Be clear if it’s a gift.

Give money where you want to have a voice … your church, a political cause or candidate or a legal fight to oppose some wrongdoing.

You will not be able to give equally to your children; they will have different needs at different times. Don’t keep score.

If you loan money to your children, insist on being paid back. It will teach them to be responsible. You can always give it back or forgive the debt later.

From Walt Whitman…”Read the leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life; re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in books, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul”.

About Religion:  It’s more important to be spiritual than religious.

About Friends:  Choose them wisely and stay in touch with them often.

About Your Word:   Say what you will do and do what you say. Your word and your actions have to be exactly the same – there are no exceptions.

About RSVP’s:  Answer them. And, if you say you will be there, then be there. If you must cancel – speak to the person(s) directly – always.

Never show up empty-handed if you have been invited to stay in someone’s home. They have carved out a place for you in their world. It means that they consider you a special and trusted friend. Honor that decision.

About being on time:  There are no acceptable excuses for being late. Your children will learn from your example.

About People:  Everyone’s important, but there are some you will not want to spend time with. That’s OK. You will know who they are.

About Thank You Notes:  Always write them. There are no good excuses not to.  And, always be timely. Never email a thank you message. Write a note. Teach your children to do this, too.

Remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated – but understand that sometimes others won’t have the resources to treat you exactly the same.

Find as many opportunities as possible to watch the sunrise and the sunset and to smell the ocean and the mountains.

Always be fully engaged in life and celebrate!

Ray Green, 2010

Changing My Perspective

So how do we do it? How do we take our lives as they are now, filled with reminders of aging, and health issues whether we want them to be or not, and keep our perspective upbeat, happy and balanced toward the positive?  How do we stay fabulous, engaged, and forward thinking despite twists in our life path we didn’t see coming that were or are real and hurtful?

I think the answer is that we need to change our perspective on life.  Most of us have not really changed our perspective on “how life works or should be” for a long time.  That needs to change.

Our perspective should now include the likelihood that we WILL live another 20 years or more – because most of us who are alive in our fabulous 60s will make into our 70s, 80s if not our 90s.  While we may be starting to think “life is short”, the reality is that for most of us our lives are not going to be short.  We are going to have to start right now getting used to the fact that there is a lot more to our lives ahead than we thought – and that our perspective has to start including visions of ourselves in the years ahead in many different possible scenarios.

 

Here’s some of my latest new perspective on being fabulous at 67, gained from much introspection and work since 2017 began.

My Fabulous perspective is a state of mind, not body.  Looking healthy and being healthy is my perfect way to look.  I will spend money to look as good as I can in my own eyes, but feel much less compulsive to be perfect-looking.  Some aging is just the facts: women my own age or older no longer automatically depress me.  Some of them actually look great to me.  My perspective includes being open to new ways of dressing – but never not caring about how I look.  

Any medical issues, feelings of being tired and stressed, can be dealt with if I just accept feeling good 80% of the time versus expecting or wanting to feel great all the time.  Based on some recent experience it is also my perspective that it is often best to just ignore little physical problems.  Things seem to resolve with just being kind to myself.  I am not afraid of dying and don’t ever plan to be.  Suffering is out – and my perspective is that suffering can be handled and I will have that help.

My Fabulous vision includes thinking of myself as strong, capable, and willing to be flexible. Just because I leave the refrigerator door open when not meaning to, or keep forgetting actors’ names, does not mean I am not strong, capable and willing to be flexible. 

I definitely am believing in more of what is intangible than what is tangible – the woo-woo zone.  Not a bad thing, it is a way of thinking that suggests everything or anything is possible.  We may have had past lives.  Maybe there are angels, or lives “on the other side” who may be sending us thoughts of peace or good will.  Or maybe there is a spiritual reason for one or another bad thing happening.  Maybe things truly ARE “meant to be”.  And faith – my perspective includes having some strong faith and more faith always.  It helps make it clear to me that life is not all about me, by any means.

My perspective includes visions of me as a much older women with lots of comfort in my life and things I want to do.  I could handle and enjoy being single if that happens.  I could date again, or fall in love again.  I can live lots of places and enjoy them and/or downsize.  There is no place I must be to be happy and secure.  There is no “has to be” ending.  There is only “has to end” happily and peacefully.

Finally, my perspective includes no expectations of life being easy, simple or a sea cruise.  I am committed to being healthy in mind and heart and working on myself.  This year has been hard for me – but it is getting easier because I am clearer about what thought processes I have that have to go.  Fabulous women wash not just their hair, but their minds.  They know letting go of what doesn’t work is another of life’s secrets to being truly happy.

Patty

 

Me, a Snowstorm and the Heating Guys: Two days in “Hell”

First, let me say that I know absolutely nothing about heating systems or hot water tanks or blowers or boilers or valves or thermostats. And anything involving electricity totally freaks me out. Changing a light bulb makes me nervous.

So, it is not surprising that I panicked when the heat stopped working a couple of weeks ago.  I was alone at the house with our two dogs and one cat. Ray was on a business trip and a frigid March weather system was bringing snow, ice and falling temperatures into the mountains of Asheville.

Actually, the heat didn’t totally stop working.

Even before Ray left, we knew we had a problem with one of the two ways we heat our house. We have pipes running through our floors that use heated water to warm things up.  I’m sure there’s a better way to describe that, but I’m doing the best I can here.

Skip, the floor heating guy, had already told us that his best “guess” was that we needed either a) a new blower in the boiler or b) a new control panel in the boiler or c) a new boiler.  Ray had previously decided to try the new blower first and it was on order.  I, of course, didn’t know a blower from a boiler.

We also have an electric heating system that is supposed to be used when the floor water heating system can’t handle the cold temperatures or when it isn’t working.

See how complicated this is getting?

So, without floor heat, I turned on the electric heating system.

The upper level was fine.  The main level, kitchen, living room and dining room, however, were not. It was getting colder by the hour. I called the electric heat company we had used before. Their technician couldn’t get here until the following day.

So I called Skip and learned that the blower was in and he could come over right away to fix the floor heat.

Day 1 in Hell:

Skip showed up, happy and smiling. He had the new blower and seemed to be looking forward to doing his manly stuff as the snowstorm loomed.

He had been to the house before, so he proceeded downstairs to the basement’s “utility room” with its tanks, pipes, valves, switches and other scary stuff. I call this room Hell.

I didn’t accompany him since I like to avoid HELL at all costs.

This is not my “hell”, but it’s similar

Four hours later, Skip was still in the basement. I wondered what he could possibly be doing. We have a TV on our lower level. Was he watching a movie?

I thought I’d better check on him, so I descended into HELL.

It was worse than I thought.

The blower wasn’t the fix he had hoped for.  “It’s inconsistent”, he said.

What’s that mean?

Asking a question was a BIG mistake. Skip happily began explaining the ins and outs of the boiler (which is called a Munchkin, believe it or not) and its connection to the water tank, the valves, the pipes and the thermostats.

30 minutes later, I was dizzy with information.

All I really had to know is that the boiler was integral to the workings of the system and it wouldn’t stay running.

The house had warmed up by several degrees while he worked on it, but it wasn’t going to continue to work through the day and evening.

“Do you want me to show you how to trick the boiler into coming on so that you can have heat tonight?” he said.

I should have said no.

Did you know that there is FIRE in the boiler?  That there are electrical wires pretty close to that fire? And that the fire has to be sparked into burning? And that air helps it spark?

Skip showed me how to turn an Emergency switch on and off (something I never hoped I’d have to do in my lifetime) and then how to hold my finger over an air intake switch INSIDE THE BOILER while looking closely into a little hole to see if the FIRE catches and burns.

This is the actual switch I had to touch. Scary, huh?

Just come down here once in a while and see if it’s burning , he said cheerfully.  If not, go through this routine.

Was he kidding?

The boiler was burning brightly and the snow was falling heavily when Skip left the house.

After he had pulled out of the driveway, I went down to HELL and the boiler was eerily quiet.

I steeled myself to try the “trick”.  The dogs were looking at me like… do you really know what you’re doing?

Eureka! It worked! For two minutes. Then the flame went out and the boiler died. Even though I forced myself to go down to HELL three more times that evening, it never worked again.

The floor began to get cold. The electric heat limped along. I wrapped myself in heavy blankets and went to bed.

Day 2 in Hell:

“Steve” showed up in the morning, pulling into our snow covered driveway. Actually, I’m sure Steve wasn’t his name, but I’m also sure I could not have pronounced the Russian equivalent.  It was obvious that our communication would be somewhat hampered by the fact that he didn’t speak much English. I glanced outside into his truck. No one else was with him.  It was just me and him.

I tried to explain the situation. He smiled and cut me off.

Where is unit? He asked with his heavy Russian accent.

What unit?

For heating.

Oh… outside under the deck.

No … where is inside unit?

There’s an inside unit? I guess it’s down in the basement.

Where is basement?

Obviously, he hadn’t been to the house before, so he wasn’t the guy who had installed the thermostats a few months ago. I had a bad feeling about this.

I led Steve down into HELL, where I glanced at the dead boiler.

Ah, here is unit. I work now, he said dismissively.

I saw him pulling off the front panel of a large ugly tank of some kind. Inside were multi-colored wires, lights and other assorted scary looking things.

Four hours later, I wondered if he was downstairs watching a movie.

Here are other snippets of our conversation during the day.

Him: Where is instruction book?

Me: For what?

Him: For thermostat.

Me: Should I have that?

Him: Yes …you should have.

Thankfully, I did.

Me (several times over several hours): How’s it going?

Him: Going very good.

Me: Are you going to be able to fix it?

Him (while reading instruction manual):  Yes … I fix.

Me: Are you ever going to leave?

I really didn’t say that last thing out loud.

Finally, Steve told me that everything was fixed. I didn’t understand his explanation, but I think he mentioned something about a burned coil (burned?) and “bad installed” thermostats.

By that point, all I cared about is that I had heat and Steve was leaving.

The outside temperature was nose-diving, the snow continued to fall, and the living room was getting warm and toasty.

I had a pleasant evening snuggling with the dogs in front of the TV, watching the snow, and drinking several glasses of pinot noir.

I didn’t return to HELL that night and I hope I never have to return there again.

Cathy Green

 

In Our 60s, It Is Time To Recreate Ourselves!

After a rocky start to the year, my head is getting straightened out.  Am realizing that changes need to be made to continue my journey of being more fully my fabulous self.  Finally letting go of “Dr. Pat, Inc.” the company that has been my safety blanket identity since I finished my doctorate.  No matter how little or how much it succeeded, it existed.  And that existence took energy – writing a blog, doing paperwork, talking to potential clients, working with clients and otherwise catering to its multiple small business demands.  Like children, friends, and pets, owning a small business takes more time and effort than one expects.  With my constantly shrinking and limited energy, and the serious belief that my separate online coaching business’s time has FINALLY come, I am in the process of dismantling the world of Dr. Pat and welcoming the new Dr. Patty.

It is going fairly well.  As I tell my existing coaching clients, they are taking the news well.  They understand I will always remain there for them, but won’t be handling new clients.  My wonderful accountant for Dr. Pat and I have decided to talk once a year, even though our business relationship is ending with my 2016 final return.  My social media/marketing wizard is OK with new work opportunities including doing something in our online coaching business and its upcoming new launch.  In reality, the disappearance of Dr. Pat isn’t having much of any impact at all.  My sister – whom everyone knows who reads this blog understands I am close to, didn’t even know my Dr. Pat business was separate from E-Coach Associates (ECA), the owner of QwikCoach, our online coaching tool.  Obviously my professional identity wasn’t clear, strong or differentiated.

When we identify with a definition of ourselves that is not current with where we are now, we limit our ability to reshape our identity to new realities.  By holding onto Dr. Pat Inc., I was limiting my ability to be “all in” with our online coaching business.  I had to divide my professional self when in reality I have barely enough energy to do one business well.  Since ECA is having a new launch soon, I need now to focus my energies there introducing myself to new clients as the Chief Content Officer of this enterprise.  That new title speaks differently to people who now will know that my most important professional role is making sure our QwikCoach product has the best content possible.  And that is what I want them to know.  My LinkedIn profile will definitely be reframed.

By re-naming ourselves, we re-create ourselves and hold ourselves accountable as well as “explain” who we are.  And this is happening personally as well.  Until now I had a business card/personal card that had my Dr. Pat business on one side and FabulousOver60 on the other.  The Fabulous side of the card listed me as Patty Gill Webber, Co-Creator of FabulousOver60.  That card is no more – and I am thinking when I do have a new card, my fabulous identity will be left out.  No one will know me in my fabulous incarnation except those reading our blog on Facebook or on our site directly – which is fine – we have been promoting FabulousOver60 for years and have a following we are happy with.  No need to keep pushing this identity.  And, as Cathy and I have stated before, we are not sure if we are going to float on from this blog when our 60s are behind us.  That is getting closer since we both will be 68 on our next birthdays.

I’m calling myself Patty now professionally – at my Church, in my neighborhood and in nearly every new situation I find myself in.  When we first joined 10 plus years ago, I was Pat and Dr. Pat and did some work for the Church under that identity.  Now, I don’t want to be more than a helper at Church – wanting my newly selected volunteer work to have me meet and mingle as just an individual person – so Patty it is.  Patty is my childhood name, my most casual name, and a name that says: she is perky and nice and maybe smart and maybe sophisticated and maybe fabulous (but not necessarily style conscious).  But Patty is someone to get to know – the name doesn’t say much except born in the 1950s. It is a humble name, and I am ready more than ever to be humble.  Running a business didn’t feel quite right as Patty, while volunteering and focusing on others’ needs it seems perfect.  I am even ‘Grandma Patty’ – so much softer than ‘Grandma Pat’ – don’t you think?

Identity is a powerful thing.  I have spent most of my adult life trying to be seen as equal to men, a professional heavyweight, independent, capable, kind but tough when I need to be, woman.  Other than being the Chief Content Officer of our online tool, I just want to be someone who lights up other people’s lives, and in doing that lights up my own.  When not working part-time for ECA, I want to love and be loved as a friend, sister, aunt, mom/grandmother, neighbor, a member – not necessarily leader of any band.  I want to be accepted and judged by how human and humane I am and how much I give away emotionally and spiritually.  Only thing I want to keep from that earlier self is my fun side – my slightly wacky personality that has served me well over the years both professionally and personally.  I, Patty, will try to keep people relaxed and laughing, for no other reason than it makes me happy.

I have to ask – who are you now??  Yes, time to rethink about that.

Patty

My Husband, Out-Patient Surgery and Strong Drugs

Ray had arthroscopic knee surgery this week to “clean up” some of the weird stuff going on in there like torn meniscus pieces and bone spurs. Hopefully, this will put off the inevitable knee replacement for a couple of years.

My part was to play the dutiful wife and designated driver. This involved arriving at the outpatient surgery center with him at 11 AM, joining him in the recovery room after his 45-minute surgery, and driving him home around 3:30 PM with an intermediate stop at the pharmacy for OxyContin. More about that later.

I felt sorry for him that morning since he couldn’t have anything to eat or drink from the time we got up at 7:00 AM until we left the house at 10:30 AM, so I ate very little. I knew that the center was close to restaurants, so I figured that I could slip out for a nice lunch while he was having his knee roto-rootered. When I mentioned this to the admitting clerk, she squashed that plan quickly.

We require someone to be here at all times ‘just in case’ ”, she said. Her unspoken second sentence was something like “If you were a good wife, you would not have to be told”.

I glanced guiltily into the waiting room. A vending machine. It would have to do.

 

Fifteen minutes after Ray went to the surgery “prep” room, I joined him to pick up a garbage bag stuffed with his clothes and to watch as he was wheeled away.

“The doctor’s ready, so you might want to kiss him now” said his pretty, smiling young nurse. The way he was smiling back, I thought he might like her to kiss him.

Bye, darlin’, I’ll be right here when you wake up” I said. (I didn’t add “I’m not allowed to go anywhere else.”).

Returning to the waiting room with my garbage bag, I joined other dutiful wives, husbands and mothers with their garbage bags and had my 1:00PM lunch of dry peanut butter crackers and luke-warm coffee.

At 2:00 PM, I answered the waiting room phone and was told that “my smiling husband” was waiting for me in recovery.

Sure enough, he was smiling at me as I walked in, buzzed on anesthesia.

That’s a nice scarf you have on” he said as he stared at it. “Thanks. I had it on this morning when we got here”. “You did? Well, it’s really pretty!”

The recovery nurse, Peggy, smiled and gave me a look that said …“Yes, he’s out of it.

Five minutes later, he wasn’t smiling anymore. As the anesthesia wore off, the pain began. “Let’s try some pain medication, shall we?” said Peggy brightly as she headed down the hallway.

Where the hell is she with my drugs!” Ray growled 30 seconds later. I thought it best to stay quiet.

The first hydrocodone “elixir” didn’t do the trick. The next two syringes of fentanyl weren’t enough either. One more syringe of Dilaudid finally sent him back to happy land.

Around that time, the surgeon dropped by to say “we did the best we could”, which didn’t sound as hopeful to me as Ray seemed to think it was. But then again, I wasn’t on his drugs.

In his newly happy state, Ray was ready to go around 3:30. I helped him on with his socks and shirt and pants and shoes, Peggy got him into a wheelchair, I pulled the car to the front door and we shoved him into the passenger seat. Good luck, she said. I was afraid I’d need it.

On the ride home, Ray kept telling me where to turn (even onto our street), pointed out cars turning onto the road and read speed limit signs aloud. “I’ve got it, honey” I said sweetly. Or, at least, I hope it sounded sweet.

At the pharmacy, I asked him if he wanted me to wait for the prescription. “No, you can come back for it later. I want to go home.”

After he hobbled into the house on his crutches, the fun really began.

Can I have some water? Can you get my pillow from upstairs?

Ice, cereal, milk, bedroom shoes, blankets, more water, more ice …. I sprinted around the house, up and down the stairs as our conversation progressed something like this:

Where are my pills? I have to go get them at the pharmacy. Why didn’t you wait for them? You told me not to. Oh, I forgot. When can I have one? Not until 6:30PM. Why not sooner? Because you had pain medication at 2:30. So what? So the doctor said every four hours only. I might need one sooner. We’ll see – just try to rest. I can’t get comfortable. What do you need? Another blanket. OK, anything else? Some more ice. OK, anything else? Yes, a pill. Not until 6:30. What time is it? 4 o’clock. When do I get the next pill after that one? 10:30. Will you wake me if I’m sleeping? Yes. And in the middle of the night, too? Yes, darling.

When he finally got into bed around 10:30 with his pill and I had set an alarm for the middle of the night, given him his water, ice, special pillow and other assorted requested items, I was well into my second pinot noir of the evening and heading toward my third.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Ray and would do anything for him. However, the day reminded me why I never wanted to be a nurse.

And, I’m starting to think about that possible knee replacement surgery. An in-home nursing care service maybe?

Cathy Green

Ray is doing great! He got off the strong stuff quickly, began some exercises three days after surgery and is walking pain-free and without a limp five days later. Hopefully, he won’t need more surgery for a long time!

Fabulous Frustration or New Re-Boot?

March is upon us and some of the things I had hoped to be celebrating just didn’t happen.  Thought our new workplace coaching tool website would be complete and starting to churn out some sales of our wonderful workplace product.  The site remains unfinished as of this date.  A planned vacation with our granddaughters has gone from a rather substantial adventure in northern Arizona to a small visit locally in Tucson, which, while fun, won’t be quite as exciting as we originally thought.  Someone very close to me has discovered she “picked a lemon in the garden of love” and is still bruised from that reality check.  Bill remains tied down with a boot that doesn’t let him drive for at least a few more weeks, while the medical tests I have undergone for nausea have yet to come back with a definitive diagnosis. Ever striving to be fabulous, I realized I had reached a place where I had to admit – not only am I not feeling fabulous, I am feeling blah – really blah.

The other day I did something I haven’t done EVER – or at least not in my memory.  I did nothing all day but read and doze.  I understand lots of people have lots of days like this, but for me, a day without some purpose never seems appropriate.  And yet, it was freeing.  I had to admit that actually there was not anything important that needed to be done yesterday – and no one was going to be upset, disappointed or bewildered by my solitary decision.  I finished the day by watching the Oscars – and found it relaxing and reinforcing since all the winners were from great movies I had seen.  Even the flub at the end worked for me – loved BOTH La La Land and Moonlight, the ultimate best picture selection.

Today I hit the ground running – writing and sending something I committed to do for a new friend, talked briefly with my sister who is getting a new computer, ordered a little pick-me-up for my niece who is job hunting and working to complete her doctoral dissertation. In addition, getting back involved in planning my high school 50th reunion, following up with some undone business with a favorite client, and even having a sort of halfway productive coaching session with my coaching partner. She’s another workplace “doctor” who has had a long career. We speak once a month and share ideas and get feedback from each other on our ever changing lives.  Rebecca always makes me laugh – at myself as well as other absurd things – she helped perk me up.

Am about to go workout for a bit – always something that elevates my mood.  And my daughter Courtney called to share just “being” with me that was fun.  She was out of the office and alone, so we really managed to talk versus “trying” to talk when she is home with her husband and children. I realized too that I am literally at the end of my latest book: Thomas Friedman’s Thank you for Being Late which I HIGHLY recommend.  That means I can order a new book today – and I remember seeing that Joyce Carol Oates has a new book out – always loved her work.  She is such a great writer.

Having kosher chicken for dinner—-found that I love kosher chicken last year when I picked up some inadvertently in the market only to discover that whatever your religion, kosher chicken just rocks!! So dinner should be extra special.

You know, I am starting to feel fabulous again.  Maybe it’s the expensive shampoo and conditioner I just bought last week after thinking my hair was looking dull, or maybe it is because I have friends and books that comfort me even when I am just whining and not really having anything concrete to complain about.  Or maybe just writing this blog reminds me that being fabulous, like being happy, is most definitely a conscious choice – not a result of what happens

2017 is being re-booted.  I think it has some great possibilities – real possibilities.  If I can just keep the news to a minimum other than what I need to know to stay informed and involved, my friend heals her broken heart, and the spring brings bunnies/rain/sunshine/adventures, it’ll all work out. As well as a finished website for our new coaching product.  Doing something I hadn’t done before—like taking a complete day off, worked for me.  It took a swipe at my blahs.  Doing different things can be overrated – but for this fabulous woman, it is really working for me. Going to remember when the next set of blahs start to happen, to look at what I have never done before and give it a try.

Happy March!!  Yes, already!!

Patty

 

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