Illness

Surviving

I was feeling smug that I had made it through this year’s nasty flu season, but last Thursday I got hit by a virus, which turned into an upper respiratory infection my eye.  The timing couldn’t have been worse, following several days off work for vacation and with a long list of tasks to be completed and some tricky issues at work.

I was off work for two days last week, then battled through most of this week trying to stay on top of my to-do list,  carry out my responsibilities at home, keep up my exercise routine, and participate in a couple of important-to-me social events.  I felt like I was operating at half speed, but I just kept reminding myself of a quote from Winston Churchill –

“Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well”

I survived until today, when I woke up actually feeling like my chest infection was starting to abate somewhat, but with one eye glued shut, red, swollen and itchy.  I spent the morning resting in bed and then thankfully Don had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon.  I was able to get his wonderful Primary Care doctor to look at me too.  After listening to my chest and looking at my eye he sent me off with eye drops, and a prescription for antibiotics to be filled if I am not better soon.

Hopefully the eye drops will work quickly, and with a good night of sleep under my belt I’ll feel well enough to get to the aqua aerobics class that is a highlight of my week.  In any case I am planning a quiet weekend of rest, with a break for a low key Easter brunch with family, before I get back into the swing of things with a new appreciation for my usually robust immune system.

 

 

 

 

 

Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, swimming, travel

Whales, dolphins…and angels

We just got back from a long weekend in Puerto Vallarta.  It had been more than 10 years since we were last there, and we had forgotten how much we like it.  This time we stayed a block from Los Muertos beach, walking distance from all of the city sights and in the thick of the action.  We loved the vibrancy, the color, watching the local families crowd the beach on what was for them a holiday weekend, and the food.  We ate lots of street tacos and several meals with our feet in the sand, drank far too many margaritas, took the water taxi to the little beach town of Yelapa, and saw some spectacular sunsets.

On Monday we took a 1/2 day whale watching trip with Wildlife Connection – a small, biologist-run outfit that takes people out in zodiacs so you can get really close to the whales.  It was a blast watching the humpbacks frolicking in Banderas Bay.  We got some amazing photos, but I think this is my favorite:

 

The next day we went out with Wildlife Connection again, this time to find dolphins with the hope of swimming with them in the wild.  One of the biologists studied a particular pod of dolphins for her Master’s thesis, and they became friendly with her and will often swim up to people.  We found the pod, and I volunteered to jump in first along with another man since Don did not want to go in.  A couple of dolphins swam right up to me and circled around, one of them so close it nearly brushed against me.  In just a few seconds they were gone, but the experience will stay with me for a lifetime.

It all happened so fast that it was hard to get a picture, but Don managed to capture it in the last second of a video he took with his iPhone, and I was able to extract this very blurry image from there.  That is me in the  back with a dolphin swimming right in front of me.

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

Unfortunately for the people who went in the water after me, the dolphins became more interested in surfing the wake and in teasing people by swimming towards them and then flashing past, so no one else got such an up close and personal experience.  I feel truly blessed.

I also feel blessed that Don and I got to spend such a fun time together, “making memories” as my grandmother always used to say.  These times together are becoming even more precious as we face his aging process and the cognitive challenges it has brought.

The trip could have ended badly as Don wandered out of the VIP Lounge at the airport and found himself on the wrong side of security without his passport or boarding pass.  He had left to go to the restroom, which he didn’t realize was inside the lounge, and then got disoriented and lost.  I started to worry when he didn’t return, and tried checking the restrooms both inside and out of the lounge.  One of the waiters in the lounge saw my distress and was about to go out and search with me when I got a call from Don on my cell phone and he told me where he was.  The waiter told me he would watch our stuff while I went and retrieved Don, and then when we returned was so solicitous, bringing us bottled water to take on the airplane, and checking every few minutes to make sure Don was ok.  I tried to find him to thank him when we left to catch our plane, but didn’t see him.  A few minutes later he came hurrying up the departure hall to say goodbye to us.  He was a lovely, kind man who went above and beyond to help us…an angel when I really needed one.

 

Retirement

Countdown

As of today it is 99 days until my target last day at work!  It might even be a little bit earlier if my replacement is on board reasonably soon.  After years of planning preparation, and months of anticipation, it is almost hard to believe that the countdown is now down to double digits!

Just 99 days, 70 workdays (a good portion of which I am taking off for various reasons), and fewer than 14 weeks of experiencing the Sunday night blues…

It still doesn’t feel entirely real, but our Board of Trustees is in the final stages of selecting my replacement, dates have been set for a couple of retirement parties, and I’ve been working on all of the paperwork needed for pension, health insurance, etc. so I think it is going to actually going to happen 🙂

I’ve been checking, re-checking, and then checking my financial planning spreadsheets and retirement budgets again, and no matter what scenario I run I think we are going to be able to support our current standard of living in retirement, so I’m starting to let myself get excited about the prospect of sleeping in accordance with my body clock instead of an alarm clock, making a dent in my very long project list, being able to take advantage of spur of the moment travel deals, going to exercise classes with my friends, and just unwinding after many years in stressful jobs.

Think these next days and weeks will fly by.  We will be taking a couple of trips even before my retirement date, I have a couple of work-related goals that will occupy my time, and just clearing out my office and tying up loose ends will make the time pass quickly.

And then, FREEDOM!

 

 

 

 

Stress and Anxiety

This says it all…

Image may contain: text

My world has been more chaotic than usual for a variety of reasons – a seemingly minor kitchen repair that has spiraled into a mini-remodel, too much to get done and too little time to do it, unexpected schedule changes, and trying to get ready for an upcoming vacation that will be really fun when we actually get there but puts a lot of extra stuff on my already over-full plate – and my control-freak tendencies are in overdrive as a result.

Adding to the challenge is a spouse whose anxiety manifests itself in disorganization, jumping from unfinished task to unfinished task, and difficulty paying attention.  It is a bad combination!

Fortunately I am managing to carve out time to swim, but its been a tough week….

Reflections, swimming

One of those days

Today was one of those days where one issue or challenge seemed to follow another and even “good” news had a dark twist.

These included –

  • A summons for jury duty…in downtown LA instead of any of the courthouses within a reasonable drive from here.
  • Being notified that I am being awarded a locally prestigious business leadership award from the Chamber of Commerce only to learn that the awards luncheon will take place at the local Trump National Golf Course, which creates both a personal issue for me and a potential political issue for my Board, some members of which had already proposed a boycott of sorts of events at the Trump golf course .  It is hard to “support” a business whose profits go to a President who has cut all federal funding for libraries from his budget proposal.
  • A voicemail from a crank who has for years called my work number monthly to demand that I resign and/or called my Board President to demand that I be fired.
  • Carving out time for a soul-restoring swim only to find the pool jammed and with a long wait time so that by the time I got in the water I had to cut my swim short.
  • Discovering that our dishwasher, which was full of dirty dishes, had detached from its mounting bracket such that the door would not close.

In other words, not much fun.

At the same time, I’ve managed to stay pretty positive and to salvage what I can from the days dramas and disasters.  I’ve postponed my jury service until December, and hopefully timed it for the week when the pool at our gym is usually closed for maintenance, and adjusted my schedule so that I can fit in a longer swim tomorrow.

I’ve reminded myself that the crank caller is really more of a nuisance than anything else, and that I am in good company since he makes similar calls to pretty much every Library Director in the greater LA area.

I’ve decided that accepting the Chamber of Commerce award even if it means attending an event that provides some small profit to Trump is better than rebuffing the many people in the Chamber of Commerce that I respect and have enjoyed working with over the years…but that I will use the opportunity as a platform to inform and educate people about Trump’s attack on libraries.

Tomorrow I will call the excellent appliance repair man that we discovered a few weeks ago when our refrigerator was leaking water, and hope that he can reinstall our dishwasher with new brackets.

And I will remember this morning’s beautiful walk along the ocean with Don, the great conversation a friend and I had when we met for coffee (tea for me!) this morning, my house that is clean and shiny after our cleaning lady came today, and the fact that I actually had a productive day at work and at home despite the challenges.

Even “one of those days” has its bright spots!

 

 

 

Home

When you live by the beach…

Friends jokingly call our place the “Gould B&B” because of our steady stream of house guests.  It is a rare month when we don’t have overnight (or longer) visitors…family members, friends, and sometimes friends of friends.

We’d like to think they are all drawn by our good company, but we know that living three blocks from the beach, 30 minutes from LAX, and an hour or less from most of Southern California’s tourist attractions have a lot to do with our popularity…we certainly didn’t have this many visitors when we lived in Kentucky!

Whatever the draw we love catching up with people who live far away, and we are adept at changing out the guestroom linens (sometimes with only 24 hours between guests), cooking for a crowd, and playing tour guide.

This week, however, we set a new record as our 21 year old nephew has brought 11 of his closest friends to visit us from Canada for a week over their college break.  The seven guys are all bunking at our place and the five girls are sharing a cheap motel room a few blocks away, but they are all at our place for meals and to enjoy the pool, beach gear, Netflix subscription, and WiFi.

They are a great bunch of young people – polite, respectful, and they mostly clean up after themselves – but our little house is bursting at the seams, and every surface in the front part of the house has been turned into a bed.

Fortunately the dog loves them, and although I can see that he finds it a bit overwhelming, Don is coping with the chaos and not getting overly anxious (which was a worry for me)… even when a raucous game of charades had the house practically shaking last night.

We bought this house from my grandfather after my grandmother died and he needed to move to an assisted living facility.  They bought it in 1937, and it is where I spent many holidays and weekends and most summer vacations – often with a houseful of cousins.  Both my sister and I also brought college friends to visit my grandparents (albeit one at a time not a dozen!) and my niece has also brought her friends to visit.

I love that Josh feels comfortable enough to bring his friends here.  When he was little and he and his sisters would come visit us in the summertime the first thing he would say when we picked him up at the airport was “It’s good to be home!” and he still thinks of this as his home away from home…just as I did for my entire life until I had the privilege of making it my actual home.

I am so grateful that we have been able to share that experience with the next generations of our family, and with so many of our friends…even if I do think that the beach is as much of a draw as we are!

 

 

 

 

 

Acceptance, Expectations, Letting Go, Reflections

There isn’t a way things should be…

“There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.” Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was a best-selling English author who died in 2015 of early-onset Alzheimer’s, so he knew first hand about the futility of thinking that things “should” be a certain way…but it is a lesson that I am still struggling with.

Yesterday’s Valentine’s celebrations, or in our case lack thereof, demonstrated that despite lesson after lesson, I have yet to learn the futility of having unrealistic expectations that my life will somehow mimic a Hallmark commercial.

After 30 years of marriage I know full well that celebrations like Valentine’s Day have never been my husband’s strong suit, and his recent cognitive challenges have only made things harder for him in this regard as for so much else.  I also know that, despite the Hallmark commercials  and the abundance of Facebook posts and Instagram photos showcasing Valentines celebrations, there isn’t a way Valentines “should be”  and that sometimes just being together is enough.

I tried hard to remember all of this yesterday, and to focus on all of the good things in my life and my marriage, but I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling of disappointment, resentment, and sadness that the holiday didn’t live up to my hopes and expectations.  It is true that there were things that Don did, and didn’t do, regarding the holiday that I was rightly sad about,  but it is also true that how I reacted that colored what could have been a nice, low-key, day of togetherness even if there weren’t hearts and flowers and Hallmark cards.

It feels as if over the past couple of years the universe has been trying to teach me what Terry Pratchett said so clearly.   I know that if I don’t learn to give up my expectations  of how things “should” be, the coming years will be so much harder than they need to be, and yet I stumble time and time again.  Yesterday was no exception.

The process is painful, but each time this happens it feels as if there is another crack in the hard shell of my expectations, opening me to greater acceptance of the reality of whatever situation I am in and a more compassionate, grounded, and accepting response.