Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bouncing back

On Monday morning, I was really scared that the trip had pushed me down to a permanently lower energy level, but since Monday afternoon I do seem to have recouped, which is a relief. Little things still tire me out--getting out of bed this morning to make a cup of tea and have something to eat took a lot out of me, but at least when I rest in bed for awhile I'm able to get up and do the next thing that needs to be done. I told Marty on the phone that I would wait for him to get here so he could feed that cats, but then I realized I could manage it. Oliver, my fourteen year old orange long hair, needs to get medicine before he's fed (he has a thyroid condition), so I did that and then gave him and Gilbert (an eight year old grey tortoise-shell longhair) some canned food, which of course they devoured. They are, fortunately, very sweet cats and just wait patiently--so many people have told me that their cats wake them early in the morning demanding to be fed, but when I wake up both cats are usually sleeping peacefully on the bed, and when they see I'm awake, they (at least initially) seem more interested in getting tickles than food!

The guy from the oxygen company was here and swapped the portable concentrator that stopped working for a new one, which he said is an improved model. It's kind of scary that a machine on which people are so dependent can be so fragile, but he said the manufacturers are continuing to improve them. I don't use the portable much at home, as I also have a big oxygen tank on wheels that doesn't need to be plugged in and is completely silent, so most of the time I am attached to that with fifty feet of tubing, which allows me to walk all around the house. And most of the time when I go out, I use a small portable that fills from the tank and will run for about six or seven hours--it's the size of a small handbag and hangs from a shoulder strap (it can also be worn as a waistpack), so it's just for longer trips that I need the portable concentrator.

I'm looking forward to a visit from Nancy, the hospice chaplain, this afternoon. As I get sicker, I've been thinking more and more about what it means to die, what it feels like, whether I will know that it's many questions. I was with both my mother and my father when they died--my mom died an awful hospital death, but my dad, who had hospice, died peacefully, in his sleep, exactly the way he always said he wanted it to be. My mom died much too young, at 56, from breast cancer, and when my dad brought up hospice as an option she rejected it totally, interpreting it as him "giving up" on her. So she kept going in and out of the hospital and eventually died there, although at least we didn't end up with her being hooked up to all kinds of machines, so I suppose it could have been even worse.

Meanwhile, I continue to try to focus on making the most of what I have, being as comfortable as possible, and enjoying the things I can. Yesterday, when Ann, my PCA was here, we got all the things off the bed (which tends to pile up), and she stripped the bed and washed and dried everything, including the duvet cover and all the pillow shams (which, unlike the sheets, hadn't been done in a long time), and got it all made up with fresh sheets, which feels really good. Yesterday Marty and I spent an hour or more laboring over last Friday's New York Times crossword, and we still weren't able to finish it, but we certainly had fun doing it. On Monday, we did the Sunday puzzle, which was pretty easy but fun. I know the Saturday paper got delivered while we were away and maybe got put onto the recycling pile (I know I had Ann put a lot of old newspapers on the pile)--if we can find it, maybe we'll try tackling Saturday's puzzle. When we first met, it was great to discover that we were both fanatically devoted to the Times puzzle.

I don't have the patience to read much more than the newspapers and the New Yorker--the new issue of which should be in the mail today or tomorrow, and Vanity Fair, which arrived the day we left and I've been dipping into since we got back. I've read a few books in the last few months but have had trouble finding things that pique my interest. When I'm in the library (my chronic pain support group meets there), I usually go straight to the new books section and pull out whatever looks interesting, but many of the books end up going back unread or partially read, although I have found a few that I found absorbing. But there are many more that I've started and then just never went back to.

My old friend John just sent me some CD's of his original music, so maybe I'll spend the afternoon listening to those.

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