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Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

My friend shared with me that his beloved 12 year old pup suddenly passed away. This has been on my mind…

As a result, I am mindful of when I was 4 years old & living with my family in Michigan with my Doberman, Hans. I have vivid remarkable memories of Hans. He was a true Doberman Pinscher, as the breed is known for being, “Always Faithful”. He was a big boy – I remember the age I was standing eye to eye with him & then I grew to be a little taller. My father was a brilliant dog trainer & the original animal lover. And my big brother & I loved playing with Hans in our back yard in the winter snow & the summer grass. Quite often, as I dashed out our back door, my dad would hand me a small paper bag full of trash to toss out in the big metal can in our yard. Each time, Hans would hide behind the trash can & as I approached, suddenly Hans would leap out & he’d jump & hop around me with glee! I laughed till my sides hurt! I fell for this again & again as he continued to lovingly play his own brand of hide ‘n’ seek behind the big trash can. I never got my dad to admit if he taught Hans how to hide & tease me in this way. But what I do know is that when our family suddenly moved into a small apartment the summer of 1962, before I started kindergarten in California, sadly we did not bring Hans with us. I am unable to remember where my beloved play mate’s new home would be that day – but I do know Hans took a piece of my heart with him. I wonder if it is possible to fill that special void of the loss of a fine dog. Perhaps it is due to that lost love that we must freely give to every dog we see in our new life with out our faithful friend at our feet. I do know, that with out the great companionship of Hans, the unexpected fun & laughter, the feeling of being protected – I would never have experienced that great level of unconditional love & compassion – as my heart grew to realize I’d never see Hans again, I experienced a painful sense of loss at much too young of an age. Hans was one of my greatest teachers. Perhaps my first teacher. My memories of Hans are my strongest childhood memories of Michigan when I was only 3 & 4 years old.

My entire life since the summer I turned 5, when ever I see a Doberman, my joy filled heart gravitates towards him & I hear myself softly say,”Haaans! I remember you. Thank you for teaching me about unconditional love. I will love you forever, right back!” For I too, am “Always Faithful”.

Budge in uniform 1955

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For the better part of my life I’ve jumped into a nice hot shower, gone to bed and fallen fast asleep.  Who doesn’t, right?  For approximately 5 years now, the level of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue that I live with has made these 2 things incredibly difficult, painful and troublesome. I’ve come up with several survival plans to manage these necessities of life. However – during my father’s illness and passing and the domino effect that still continues to follow – it’s been quite, shall we say, challenging.

For tonight, I will execute one of my little feeling better tricks: The Gratitude List. More often than not, writing it works a heck of a lot better than thinking it… And I am so grateful, that, somehow, I am still sober…

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

I am grateful for the Tucson clouds.

 

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

I am grateful for my favorite flowers.

 

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father's cat.

I am grateful for, Peaches, my father’s cat.

 

I am grateful I live on a quiet cul-de-sac.

I am grateful I live on my father’s quiet cul-de-sac.

 

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

I am grateful for the times I remain hopeful that some day I will live pain free.

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I’ve been staying in Tucson longer than I originally anticipated. 9 weeks ago I arrived with endless hope and energy.  As today comes to a close I feel the weight of endless sadness – reckless sleeping has pushed down my weary shoulders and clouded my eyesight. I am amazed at the amount of tears that continue to fall many times a day.  I duck into an empty bathroom or I sit in my car, or suddenly I can not hold myself up as I am standing alone washing the dishes in my father’s empty home.

Is this the way life is now?  I am unable to see out.  Suffering from serious sleep deprivation as I make endless decisions for my father’s care.   I find myself with the suprising and distracting task of convincing caregivers that my father is in their facility to recover from throat cancer and chemo – not die – recover!  I have learned the hard way that because my father is quite thin and is on a feeding tube many false assumptions have been made.  My hope and faith is tested as I take someone aside to explain that my father is already a miracle!  can’t you see that he is walking unassisted?!  He was in a wheelchair only 2 months ago. PLUS he has gained 7 pounds since he went on that feeding tube.  I am quite clear on my hope.  I am quite clear I am spreading a positive force of healing thoughts. I am quite clear as I share my admiration for my father’s unwavering determination.  Yes, his confusion is heart breaking – however – he is tenacious and healing!

Caregivers giggle when he makes a face like a frog with a wide turned down mouth. Then he makes a face like a fish and puckers up.  “Ga. Ga. Ga!” he says with his broken raspy voice. “Ka – ka – ka!” He says with a sly smile and wink.  “Wow! Good ones Dad! You’re really improving!  Keep up the good work!” I tell him with a gentle hug. “Your throat exercises are making a big difference Dad!  I can tell.  I just know it to be true.  I catch a couple caregivers tilt their head with sudden understanding.  They ask questions. So my father teaches them what he is doing to rebuild his throat muscles.  The tumors that were at the top of his throat and airway are gone now.  He speaks highly of both his oncologist as well as his Speech Pathologist who visits him on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Yes, it is another day in the life with surviving throat cancer.  But the good news is, my father’s hard work, combined with hope and my private tears and prayer is paying off in baby steps. The Speech Pathologist gave him 3 sips of water yesterday and then 3 sips of apple juice. He did not cough. He did not choke.  He swallowed – he drank them. It was magnificent.

And the best news of all is that my father’s alma mater, Michigan State, won the Rose Bowl.  All we can do is the very best we can do.  Half measures avail us nothing.  It’s another blessed day in Tucson.  It is the recovery that comes from hope. Tears are allowed with hope. Confusion is allowed with hope.  Sleepless lonely nights in an empty house can still have hope and blessings in every corner.Tucson Sunset

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20110507 missing oak tree

I refuse to react.

I refuse to participate on any level with a bully.

I refuse to allow anyone or anything distract my father from his continued comfort, peace and healing.

Only God will guide me in my decision making.

I am strong. I am tall. I am clever. I am tenacious.

Perhaps I am a daddy’s girl after all.

 

 

 

 

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cloud streetWhile my father was resting at the skilled living center as his feeding tube gradually, gently allowed nutrients back into his dehydrated body, my gentleman friend and I went on errands for supplies.  I was grateful to have his hand to hold. . . My body buzzing with anxiety – my mind fuzzy with a horrific sence of urgency – my vision blurry as if someone rubbed vaseline petroleum jelly around the edges of my glasses. . . Clearly it was a good thing I was the passenger and not the driver.

As we drove down the empty road and the sky was jam packed with fluffy Arizona clouds, the GPS seemed to be confusing our sence of direction as we did our best to navigate around Tucson so I could get a couple items for Dad.

“. . . Point 5 miles U-turn . . .”  the automated female robot voice said.

Following directions – we did a U-turn.

” . . . Point 5 miles U-turn . . .” the GPS said to us once more.

“What?!  Seriously?! Stop it!”  Clearly the the gosh darn GPS was more turned around than we were.

“Turn that thing off!”  We said in unison like Bose stereo speakers.

Instantaneously we burst into laughter!  Beautiful, beautiful laughter. My gawd it felt good – a moment in a day where my tears were endless and my heart was broken due to my fear of the unknown with my Dad’s health status.  Our sweet and sudden laughter created a tiny crack in my overwhelming fear and my hope rushed in – as if the laughter had broken a dam of despair.

My father’s strong spirit is inside of his frail body.  And with his whisper of a shredded voice, he softly stated, as if it was a typical Sunday afternoon, “I want to play golf again.”

My father is working with all his might every moment to regain his health. So the least I can do is remain hopeful and carry my faith with all my might.  Together we can do this.  My family is small – but we are mighty.

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IMG03689-20131103Another long challenging day in Tucson, Arizona as we all try to do our best to care for my father.  I’m hoping the explanation to his deep confusion is because of the many weeks of meds and no solid food.  He did not feel this sick when he had the beginning stages of throat cancer. Now he is someone recovering from the damaging effects of chemo and radiation. What are our choices here? My father is 85 years old.  Die because we have cancer?  Or die because we are fighting cancer?  Is it just a different journey with the same end result?  But not being able to eat?!  As for me, if I don’t eat I can not function. . .

I am mindful of my brief but lovely and blessed experience today when I went out side for some fresh air to take a moment.  The air so pure it made me feel lighter.  The clouds were putting on a magnificent show of many colors. With a motion of their own, both my arms stretched to the clouds.  They longed to grab on and be carried away into the cold brisk clean air.  What a freeing moment that would be. . .

Turning around I see the doors of the skilled living facility where my father is literally putting up a wicked fight to get his life back and get back home.  In his rough of a whisper agonizing voice he speaks of his cat.  The cat I am taking care of.  The cat he misses that is inside of the home that he misses. . . Perhaps it was the clouds.  Perhaps it was the wind. Perhaps it was because I felt a little cold. But I knew in that moment that this is not my sadness.  This is not my struggle.  This is not my day to be in a wheelchair fighting to stand up.  All of this belongs to my father.  My father the lifeguard. The swimmer at Michigan State. The original lover of dogs and cats. The Sierra Club leader. The tennis player. The single father during the late 60’s and 70’s.  The guy telling a funny joke at the bar while he sips his beer. The golfer who loves the sport so much that he bought a home in Tucson with a view of a Golf Course.  The guy who keeps trying with all his might to stand up from his wheel chair.  He’s frustrated. Confused.  The caregivers and nurses kindly ask him to “please sit back down”. They have to speak over the loud buzzing of the high-pitched bells.  And all I am is the daughter who gets the honor of standing by his side and holding his frail arm and says, “I’m right here Dad, you stand untill you want to sit back down.” It was for quite a few more seconds, but he did it. I kneeled next to him looked up and I told him my truth, “Dad, I admire you.”  And it was good. It was simple. It was empowering.

Tomorrow I get to do it all over again – except tomorrow – I’m going to bring his cat with me.  Let’s change-up this journey a bit. . .

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Dad's neighborhoodLast night it was my intention to shower before bed. My body begged to rest for a moment, knowing that showers are quite a work out. Not recognizing the heaviness of my daily fatigue and exhaustion, I had fallen asleep…

Early this morning I woke up on top of my bed, cold, in my robe, with the throw blanket over me and Grace sound asleep at the foot of my bed. Knowing she can be my personal feline heating pad, ever so slowly I moved my toes towards her and gently tucked them underneath her warm and cozy catness. She didn’t move or open her eyes as the sound of her distinct loud purr filled my bedroom.

I felt my spirit rise like the morning sun. My body still had not moved – yet my gratitude was overwhelming me. My true joyful spirit snuck out from me and rejoiced the sunlight coming in through my windows. I felt it in such a way as if I was watching my spirit look out of the window as it noticed the wind suddenly appear to greet the trees. A joyful feeling indeed.

Other than my toes under Grace’s black furry warm body – I had not moved. My memory dialed into two nights ago when I took my first dose of a new medicine. With in a few minutes I broke out in hives. Seriously? Hives?! The moment wasn’t about how the hives with their burning red welts felt on my body. The moment was about taking care of this nuisance. This distraction. Take care of it. Get on it. Get into action. Off to the pharmacy I went…

As much as I do get frustrated. As much as I do feel angry that my body can not do the activities that have always been a part of who I am. My spirit greeted the day rejoicing because finally, finally I know in my heart that I do indeed have many choices. More choices than I ever have been able to realise or see. Choices that I feel. Choices that make each day, each moment, the best choice that I can make in that moment.

I choose to sit down and cry. I choose to feel bummed-out knowing that I am missing yet another event. Missing another dinner party. Missing another play. I choose to feel left out or forgotten. But it is also my choice just how long I allow these things in my heart. How long do I allow this dark visit?

I did not miss out on everything!

I didn’t miss the first day my parents taught me how to swim. I didn’t miss my first boy-girl party. I didn’t miss my first kiss. I didn’t miss cheerleader tryouts. I didn’t miss my first prom. I didn’t miss being in my best friend’s wedding. I didn’t miss watching my son take his first steps. I didn’t miss any of my son’s soccer games. I didn’t miss the plane when I flew to Costa Rica to surf for 10 days. I didn’t miss my son’s high school graduation or his college graduation.

It’s endless.

The choices? Endless.

Today I’m getting a chance to find new best choices for myself as I am finding my way. Learning my capabilities. No matter what, I still can make the best choices in any situation and not miss out on any event that is my best choice. Then, and only then, will I continue to not only be joyful, but I can be victorious as well.

I will always have an opportunity directly in front of me to make my best choice. And then my reward is a heart full of gratitude and a joyful spirit that will rise to meet the sunshine of each and every morning.

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