Archives for category: Uncategorized

August 2015

Photo by K. Farwell

Well, I just spent about two weeks visiting in Puyallup, WA. Everyone thought I’d be enjoying rain every day, but it only rained (for longer than thirty minutes) one day while I was there. In fact, they are experiencing a terrible drought that may eventually kill there beautiful evergreens in the next couple of years. Now that I am home, according to the news, their forest fires are also spreading across the state from east to west, so fire may eventually be a threat to the Puyallup area also.  I did, however, enjoy the cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels—-and, of course, the spectacular views. I enjoyed spending time with my sister. We let ourselves indulge in adult play (creativity) beading  bracelets and finishing a very challenging but beautiful jigsaw puzzle.

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In order to enjoy this vacation I had to work up my courage to face the challenge of flying in today’s world of post 9/11 aviation. I did not have any trouble in St. Louis; TSA did not have me take my shoes off, “x-ray” me in any “hands-above-your-head” machine, or pat me down. The guy behind me had to have his hands checked for powder residue, so I can only assume they were doing a bit of profiling—-all he did was lean against the metal railing while I was walking through the “entry scan gate.”  Of course, every seat was filled on my flight, and the hardest thing to tolerate, for me, was what sounded like three babies not just crying but shrieking at a level very painful to the human ear.  The best part  of my flight from St. Louis to Sea-Tac was conversing with my “seat mate.” He was a young man from China who had been touring the U.S. He talked about his travels in Europe and Russia, and he said he liked America the best. When I asked him what it was he liked the best, he said “the freedom.”  His reply almost left me speechless because I realized I tend to take that aspect of our country fore granted. I realized I have spent my life here actively protesting (in my younger days) and intermittently complaining about what I consider negative aspects of our country’s political realities rather than being grateful for the positive aspects of our democracy. That one comment provided the most potent “aha” learning moment of my vacation adventure.

My flight back was not filled with shrieking babies, and I got to change planes—–to a seat that had an empty seat between me and the other man in my row of seats.  However, my PTSD symptom remnants made waiting to get on my plane at SeaTac very uncomfortable. TSA there was doing a fantastic job of protecting all of us, and I got to experience security measures I have never experienced before (like a sniffing drug dog, the infamous “x-ray” machine, and being patted down and having my hands checked for powder. No profiling here— I was glad to see sweet little old ladies had to take their shoes off and be treated like everyone else….very carefully. Once I got to my gate, I knew why. I was in a  major port of entry/departure, and the entire hub of gates where I had to wait was standing room only. When I finally got a seat after about 45 minutes, a young man set down next to me. He started playing a  car racing game on his tablet——-and he actively took those turns by shifting his body weight and moving his arms at different angles—— an action that resulted in me being repeatedly touched/jabbed with his elbow. I finally got up enough nerve to ask him to please play another game that didn’t necessitate him repeatedly jabbing his elbow into me. He was more careful after that.

I was extremely happy to walk in my own front door about 2 AM. I was “too tired” to get to sleep until about 4 AM, and my dogs woke me up at 6:30 AM; this made for a very surreal Sunday. All in all, I learned that even though travel has its challenges, the rewards still outweigh them. In retrospect,  I can clearly appreciate that now, but when I was being repeatedly “elbow jammed” I had my doubts.  Enough of my travel log. God bless and keep you.

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Wrinkles

Photo, “Wrinkles” by K. Farwell

Today has been quite a day! I learned something a new phrase, and  every time the phrase goes through my mind, I start giggling because it sounds like the perfect line and maybe even title for a country western song. It would start out, “My retinas have wrinkles….” but past that I can’t come up with a good lyric. I do, however, find myself  thinking “I must make amends” would work, but that was Janis and her friends back in the day.

Fortunately, my right eye had only one wrinkle and my left eye only several small ones. Why lucky? I was told that while having a few retinal wrinkles was “normal” having a lot meant serious eye surgery. While I was at the eye doctor’s we scheduled my cataracts surgeries. It was explained to me that I will have lenses put in my eyes that will allow me to see far, far away. Now, having never been able to do so, I really can’t imagine what it is going to be like. I will, the doctor explained, have to give up my close vision—–so gone will be my days of taking off my glasses to read or crochet. Instead I will put on reading glasses.

I may still need prescription glasses for far vision; there is no guarantee exactly how these surgeries will turn out. Sounds like a bit of a gamble, but any vision a new lens will give me has to be better than that given me by my own lenses without assistance. I think I could tolerate wearing “regular people” glasses rather than “coke bottle” glasses. And I am sure getting the prescription filled for those glasses wouldn’t cost the  usual $500-600 my almost annual new glasses do.

And, then, for a mere $999 I can get correction for my right eye’s astigmatism built into the lens they will put in that eye. That correction has to be paid for out of pocket because Medicare and all insurance companies consider such a correction a luxury. However, if you’ve never been able to “really focus” on something, spending almost a thousand dollars seems worth it.

I haven’t seen any commercials on television yet for “wrinkles on your retinas”—–but I am sure the day will come. They’ll probably invent some miracle eye drops that are guaranteed to smooth them out over night or your money back. Enough foolishness. I am a bit anxious and have been using inferior jokes to deal with my anxiety. When the doctor first told me about my “retina wrinkles” I asked him what caused them—–obviously, I told him, they weren’t caused by sleeping on them the “wrong way.” That little tidbit of humor was ignored or culturally incomprehensible. God bless and keep you.

Dog Jackets for Warmth Photo compliments of K. Farwell It is 7 or16 degrees cold outside (depending on which reading is correct, my thermostat or the local TV channel’s weather app) and 40, 54, or 66 degrees “warm” inside my house, depending on what room you happen to be in. I could use my central air and fix that, but instead I prefer to use a gas stove in my living room which should be a bit cheaper in the long run than my central heating.  That means my dogs got to put their winter jackets on this morning.  We got about 6-8″ of snow here by the time it ended yesterday.  I am too lazy to bundle up and go outside to measure the actual depth. Suffice it to say by yesterday noon the street between my house and the school across the street was undetectable—–and the school driveway “do not enter” sign looked  like it was  only a foot off the ground. Why all that minute detail? I wanted to set the stage for my television saga which began last night just as the Westminster Dog Show was starting. I had thought perhaps the snow that kept falling until about 11 AM yesterday might mess up my satellite television reception. Luckily, the snow was blowing the opposite direction than the “dish” part of the satellite that is high up on my roof where it cannot be reached to sweep the snow away. You can imagine my surprise when I punched in the numbers for the dog show channel last night and instead got a “no satellite signal” message. Then I went to the TV in my bedroom, and it was still working. So I punched in a new channel and got it without a problem. Then I punched in the numbers for the dog show. Guess what? All of the sudden that TV also had “no satellite signal” message.  I found this exceedingly strange, so I called DirecTV. After telling their computer I wanted to talk to a real person  at least three times I finally got to talk to a woman who tried to be helpful. First, she had me look for a “genie control box” that was supposed to be on the floor behind one of my television sets —-she even directed me to an online photo so I would recognize it when I found it. It was not behind either set.; so she had me look in my basement. It was not plugged into any outlets there, so I told her I didn’t have a “genie” even though she was sure I did. She said they’d been installed in all systems in the past 2-3 years.  My system was first installed before that time, but by then I knew better than to argue with her. The “tech assist” lady went on to explain that no one could be scheduled to come to my house until all the snow was gone…..which probably won’t be until sometime next week. Besides, she explained, your loss of signal is probably due to snow even though it stopped snowing eight hours earlier….and, yes, according to her, one TV set can work for a while before getting a delayed loss of signal even after the main set has stopped getting the signal. Isn’t that amazing? Want to know something else amazing? When I woke up this morning, my bedroom TV was once again getting satellite signals, and it has been doing so for about three hours now even though the main television (the one that is supposed to control what both sets do) is still not receiving a signal. I’m sure if I called there would be some off the wall explanation of why that is normal when it snows, but I hardly think it is worth the bother now. I will just watch TV in my bedroom when I need to see weather, news, or my favorite soap opera. There’s always “DirecTV everywhere” I can view on my laptop, tablet, or I-Phone….but it’s “live streaming”  is a bit limited. I think perhaps God is trying to tell me things other than television are much more important.  I didn’t have television in the house where I grew up until I was about ten years old,; therefore,  I know it is very possible to have a great life without television. So, I will patiently wait until the snow melts before trying to get DirecTV to come fix my system. I may even ask them to deduct a week from my bill. Who would have thought that many years ago when I stood outside with my father and uncles on a starry night  just to see a satellite move across the sky for the first time that I would eventually be so dependent on the orbiting wonders that I would find their limitations this exasperating? May peace and blessings come to all of us, and may those of us who are isolated due to weather conditions  use some of  the freed up time to  nurture our relationship with God. May God bless and keep you.

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Photography courtesy of K. Farwell

I have been working on this forgiveness challenge thing (https://www.forgivenesschallenge.com), and it is helping me look at what happened in my last marriage and divorce a bit differently.

Yes, of course, I felt angry, hurt, and abandoned at the time my divorce occurred. However, as a result of being freed from a relationship that was slowly killing both of us I was given a new life.  What I went through has empowered me to live life my life fully as a survivor. Most importantly, hitting that emotional “bottom” over ten years ago triggered internal spiritual growth that has given me a true relationship with God. It has given me the choice of viewing others with compassion rather than blame or the fantasy that they can do better if I just love them. I no longer feel the need to play God or to form any relationship that has an element of me addressing someone else’s needs and issues while  ignoring my own.

Today’s forgiveness challenge had participants going through a guided imagery exercise that instructed people to hold the person they are working on forgiving as a baby in their arms….a baby pure, unblemished, and  full of potential, love, and hope. It had them, if able, to hold that baby, to bless it, and to wish it happiness. And, lastly, having done this, it asked them to let the person go. I was able to wish my ex-husband blessings and happiness, and to raise my arms and release him to God.

The exercise felt very real to me. It allowed to view my ex with compassion and forgiveness…..and to let him  and my resentment towards him go.  I felt immense relief and gratitude.  After his abrupt departure from my life over ten years ago , I used the Big Book’s resentment prayer endlessly—-or so it seemed. And, yes, to a great extent doing so worked. However, those who know me will tell you I have a very active and sarcastic tongue when it comes to talking about my ex-husband. I am hoping the forgiveness work I am doing now  is changing that.

I am learning to look at situations a bit differently. I am beginning to view actions rather than people as bad. I am learning to try to view all people with compassion knowing I am in no position to judge because there is much in my life and actions that also needs forgiven. I am learning I can choose to re-direct my thoughts from blame and anger to ones of compassion. God bless and keep you.

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I have the mid-winter blahs. Big time. Can’t blame it on the sun not shining or on ice or snow. I have once again started eating healthy—-which for me means no flour, sugar,  or carbs that are high-glycemic and weighing and measuring what I am going to eat before I eat it. In a couple of days I should be feeling a lot better. However,  these first couple of days of detoxing  from the way I was eating has made me depressed and irritable ——plus I have had to spend too much time in bathrooms.

What’s really gotten to me is taking care of my dogs. Boo had a growth removed from in front of his left ear about a week ago. That first night after surgery he spent crying and throwing up. I could not console him. He was and still is having to wear a cone to keep him from scratching his surgical site while it is healing.  In addition, one of my other dogs, Gus,  is a “licker”——he likes to lick and groom  or  “parent” other dogs almost non-stop.  Therefore, I had to put a cone on Gus to keep him from licking Boo’s surgical site.

Thankfully, Boo adjusted quite well to his cone, and he has learned to eat, drink, sleep, and climb stairs in spite of wearing it. I thought Gus had adjusted to his, but for the past couple of days he stopped eating and seemed listless. Last night I finally got him to eat by hand feeding him a little at a time by letting him lick  a few bites off of my hands. He seemed better today, but when I had a friend come over,  I took off the cone to see if that was what was depressing him. I waited to my friend was here  because it originally took the two of us to get the cone  on Gus in the first place.

A few minutes after removing Gus’ cone I noticed his whiskers under his lower jaw were pinkish red—-as if he had been eating something bloody. Then I looked at his mouth. To my dismay I found sores—-places rubbed raw—on both sides of his lower jaw. He must have rubbed himself over and over again on the inside seam of his cone without me knowing it. I will not put the cone back on him, and now I have to watch them closely or keep him and Boo separate for another almost entire week.

My friend and I put warm salt water on Gus’s raw spots to help them heal, but I know that too hurt him. I am feeling so guilty! Gus has already forgiven me, but it will be a while before I can accept hurting a dog in my care to this extent.  Of course, I’ve checked Boo’s mouth closely, and he has not rubbed any raw spots on himself.

I know I live one day at a time—-even days like today. One could say I’ve had a “semi-bad” day today—-but I am warm and dry, I have a roof over my head, my bills are paid, I have good friends, and I am healthy, at least for today. I am sober and clean. I am abstinent from foods that are unhealthy for me. My dogs love me in spite of their present condition. They have repeatedly shown me the meaning of the term “unconditional love.”

I realize I just made a list of things for which I am grateful. It worked. I no longer feel like moaning and groaning with self-pity. Now I am grateful for the gift of living today. I this moment and all of my moments are a gift from God. I also know I cannot live one day at a time without God’s love and support. I don’t keep myself clean and sober or abstinent—–God does when I am willing to let him. I am grateful for the gift of willingness that makes today’s moments possible. God bless and keep you.

 

 

 

 

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Ah, the winding down of the hectic holiday rhythms our culture perpetuates year after year. Slowly re-storing Christmas decorations, trees, etc. to their “usual place.” Time to take a deep breath, relax.  So I thought.

Friday night, stomach acid erupted up my esophagus and rudely wakened me in the middle of the night. I assumed it was acid reflux and I quickly downed a couple of TUMs. That wasn’t enough to calm things down, so I forced myself to swallow pink gooey Pepto. Then I was able to sleep a couple of hours before I was jolted wide awake with projectile vomiting. For you non-medical folks, that is the kind of vomiting that is so forceful it travels across the room as in the movie “The Exorcist.”

This meant I had to get in my car and drive to the local ER because the last time this happened it threw my heart into a “tizzy.” I was immediately wheeled into the ER where they started giving me  IV fluids. For most, this is a somewhat simple procedure, but for someone with “poor veins” who is dehydrated this is sometimes next to impossible. Oh yes, bloods were drawn. Again. And Again. When one is dehydrated, this almost becomes a form of torture. What these medical folks were calling “a Rainbow” suddenly gave a whole new meaning to what had, until then, been my almost magical concept of “rainbow.”

When IVs were finally started and all bloods drawn,  I was rolled on my gurney to x-ray for abdominal x-rays and chest x-ray and returned to my cubicle.  After a few hours and several trips in to check my IV—–the IV fluids were moving R..E…A…L…L…Y  slowly—–it became clear I would remain on my back in my own little cubicle of life-saving grace until the IV bag was empty. Thankfully, my priest came and  stayed with me during part of this ER experience, and her presence, prayer, and support were very comforting. She helped make everything “endurable.”

Finally, the doctor came in to discuss my x-rays with me. If I hadn’t felt so bad, I would have laughed. This had to be one of the most comical x-ray result discussions on record.

In the past,  when I have experienced this type of vomiting and dehydration it was due to a partial obstruction of my gastro-intestinal system that, in turn, usually sent me via  ambulance to an advanced metropolitan medical center in St. Louis where I would stay for at least a week under the always looming threat of emergency abdominal surgery. My x-rays, thank God, did not show a partial bowel obstruction this time.

I was so relieved to hear I  did not have a partial obstruction this time that it took me a while to realize the doctor was telling me my x-rays revealed I was absolutely, totally, “full of a LOT of shit.” Evidently, I have a “redundant colon.” I was told a redundant colon means that back in my size 5X days my colon expanded to a super large size—–and when I finally lost weight my colon had lost its elasticity and stayed stretched out. Now, because of that and numerous surgeries I lack nerve stimulation and intestinal elasticity/peristalsis to “move my feces” along and out of my body in a timely fashion. Of course, a bit keeps moving through, and since “daily evacuation” occurs, I have no clue things are “building up.” Evidently, my body only knows it is “filled to capacity” when there is “no room in the inn” —-at which time it reverts to projectile vomiting to remove fluids out the other end of my body.

Due to this x-ray finding  I was then treated to a VERY hot old-fashioned 1000 cc soap suds enema. And yes, it worked. I completely filled a portable bedside commode. My recommended discharge prescription was daily use of multiple laxatives accompanied by the use of rectal suppositories three-four times per week. Then, to top it off, I was told to give myself a couple of enemas every week whether I think I needed them or not.

The whiny kid in me wanted to complain, but being alive and living with all this anal fixation is better than dying or having to have surgery and having a colostomy to tend. To be honest, this is not the way I wanted to spend my post-holiday wind-down or even the rest of my life, but I am grateful for medical intervention and thankful God continues to let me live one day at a time in spite of the damage I have inflicted upon my body through the years due to “self-will run riot.”

 

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Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

Reality Bite

Well, today is turning out to be a bit different than the routine Monday I expected. First, I paid mid-month bills, and read, yet again, the reminder that my car’s license tags needed to be renewed. So, I decided to be different this year and get all that “stuff” done early rather than at the last minute. For a change, I was able to find proof of having paid county property tax for the past two years. That meant all I had to do was get a vehicle inspection done. So, off I went to get the inspection. As inspections go, it was relatively quick and painless.

So, I found myself standing in line and get my license plate renewed. While I am waiting, I decided I’d better check my driver’s license while I was there. Sure enough, in a couple of months it was due to expire. I decided to get my driver’s license renewed while I was there.  That meant I got to stand in another line. I am “vision challenged” so I always try to listen to those standing in front of me “reading the letters” for the eye exam. I don’t think of it as cheating. I rationalize that I am “studying for my exam.”

I have another trick I always use when having my eyes tested by the state. Since my eyes do not like to work together and my right eye is my “good eye” I always shut my left eye and take the test with my right eye. To my dismay, that didn’t work this time. I read the line I saw, and was asked to read the letters in the column on the far left. I said there was a column at the far left with numbers in it, and the person testing me said, “No, the column to the right of that.” I said that column was blank. She said, “No, it is not blank.” So I said a quick prayer and  opened my left eye. Magically, letters appeared in the column that had been blank,  and I had no trouble reading them with both eyes open.  Thankfully, they decided I could see well enough to drive .

Next,  I got to have my photo taken. I had not planned on having my photo taken when I left the house, so I was dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt—-and I hadn’t combed my hair since I got up.  I had washed my face, but I had done nothing to enhance my appearance makeup wise.

I posed for my “photo, ”  and the camera  flash “went off” early—at the count of two rather than three. Consequently,  I knew this photo would be one I would not like because I would look a bit startled. But that expectation did not prepare me for the shock I got when I looked at the copy of the photo that would be on my new driver’s license. They had handed me a picture of my mother. I wanted to give it back to them and tell them they’d made a mistake.

I am trying to consider this morning as an excursion into “reality therapy.” My program of recovery tells me acceptance is the answer. I need to accept I look exactly like my mother looked at this age, and, yes, I am “that age.”  I need to be grateful that I am alive. My ego needs to get over itself. I always think of myself as an evolving elder——and today I realized my mind has emphasized the word evolving and neglected to acknowledge and accept the “elder” part. Hopefully, today I have made progress in combating my character defect of “procrastination” and in acknowledging my character defect  of false pride. God bless and keep you.