I am glad this year is on its last day and very glad for the hope of a brand new year. This is one last glance before I dust off for 2016.
Even before the year 2015 actually started, Alan and I were moaning with a stomach flu. We sniped at each other because both of us felt like—well, like crap. Alan had to go to the hospital for fluids. I fumed at him for not drinking enough water. I got over it within about a week. But Alan didn’t. He took antibiotics and came down with C-diff. That’s short of Clostrdium difficile colitis. Goggle it. It’s not fun to have or to live with someone who has it. I turned into a classic germophobe and bitched at him for not eating yogurt, afraid he might die.
That’s how the year started off. I gotta tell you, I am just not great as a caregiver. I’m not sure if he got well, or just quit talking about it.
That situation went on for months. He lost weight. People at church were praying for Alan, and I think some of them were praying I wouldn’t kill him.
When Spring rolled around, we did lots and lots of yard work because we have two properties now. One we live on and one we have intentions of building a house on in the near future.
I worked on the second draft of my novel and met with a small critique group every other week. They saw me enough on a regular basis to realize I was depressed. They are good friends and are kind to me in every way except, you know, for the critiquing part of why we met.
In June, Don, my brother-in-law passed away. I say he was my brother-in-law; he and my sister had divorced a few years before; they stayed friends. He and I were friends. Don had had health issues for several years, but his death was sudden. I loved him. I was proud of how my nieces handled his memorial. Proud of my sister being there for him and for their girls. I thought about him a lot this year and my heart ached for my sister and nieces.
In July, Alan went for a regular health screening at work for his insurance. His blood pressure was at stroke level. He went to the doctor and got meds to get it under control. It stayed above normal.
In August, he went for a stress test. Afterwards, we did yard work at our new property. The doctor was calling Alan while he was weed-eating the back side of the property and I was mowing. Alan never checks his phone. The day went by.
He rode his motorcycle in to work the next morning. The doctor’s nurse called our home phone first thing, saying that Alan really needed to see a cardiologist that day. His stress test showed he had ischemia, low oxygen to his heart. I got a hold of him at work through instant messenger and told him I would come pick him up. He told me if I wanted to come, I could just follow him back on his motorcycle. How do you argue with someone who might have a heart attack any second. I followed him home.
So…there began a wild and powerless experience as I stayed in the hospital with him when he had open-heart surgery. One day about a week after he was home, he fainted in the bathroom because his blood pressure went too low. That day scared the hell out of me. Between weight restrictions, so many pills, a new diet, and his not being able to drive that first month he was home, I was too busy and too frightened to do much for myself except maybe brush my teeth.
I can’t believe how sweet people are. New friends who live next to our new property mowed it for us for the rest of the year. One of Alan’s friends at work came and helped us around the house, lifting things I couldn’t, trimming the yard after I mowed. People watched after us in all sorts of ways. I really believe God watched after us through all our friends. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everyone who was there for us during his hospital stay to the days at home later. I know Alan feels the same.
The day of Alan’s surgery, a close friend of ours, Jane Kellum, had a stroke. She died two days later. We missed being there for her family whom we consider our extended family. We did celebrate the holiday with most of them a week before Christmas. The first thing they said to us was how sorry they were for not being there for Alan when he had his surgery. We sat and talked about our different experiences, and somehow those conversations healed us. We really love the Kellum family.
This month our dog chased a damned skunk and got sprayed by it, again. (It’s the third time she’d been skunked. Twice this year and once a few years ago.) She twisted all over the ground trying to get the smell off her. Alan and I gave her a bath outside and made her stay in a room by herself. Then we cleaned the house because smell followed her in. As the weeks went by, our little Zee started exhibiting a lot of pain when she went up and down our stairs. Long story short, she had a compressed disc in her neck and arthritis in her hips. She just kept getting worse no matter all the things the vet and we tried. We put her down a couple days ago. Her death is a heart-breaking period to this year’s continual stress.
Goodbye 2015. I have learned some great lessons from you.
- One lesson is something I seem to learn over and over again. I can’t control anything except my own attitude, and more often than not, I can’t control that.
- Eat healthy. We were fat and salty until August. Our diet was so full of sodium, I think we may be preserved forever and need no embalming when we die.
- Heart surgeries don’t just happen to the heart patient. They affect the family and friends and they are traumatic events.
- Just let go and work at living life on life’s terms. I don’t have enough time in my future to fill it with strife and fear anymore. Make gratitude lists instead of resentment lists.
- Relationships are priceless.