An Ocean Past

I ran into an old friend today, someone I haven’t seen since a lifetime ago or so it seems. And while it was great to see him, it also made me realize that I had traveled an ocean of time since last seeing him. And in traveling that massive ocean of time, well, things changed. I had changed.

He used to make me laugh when the only choices were to laugh or cry. I thought it was a wonderful trait to have. There was something magical about always being able to make someone laugh, to keep laughter around and not take things too seriously. It was shimmery, golden and simply perfection.

Somewhere between all the laughing, I recall he could sing. Not great, but he could sing and did so sometimes. I think when he wanted something that he thought I was going to say no to. He’d sing, and do these odd pantomimes to try to work it into a yes.

He still has those deep chocolate eyes that once seemed to be so full of laughter all the time. His shoulders haven’t shrunk and he still drives a jeep, just not the same one he had when I knew him an ocean ago.

He didn’t try to make me laugh the entire time we were visiting this time and he didn’t even hum. Because like myself, he too has travels an ocean of time. I got the feeling that while I hit a few storms and a number of squalls in my travels, it wouldn’t compare to what he had seen and been through. He reminded me of someone who is used to looking far onto the horizon for something, but never really finding it.

He told me that death has a way of stealing your laughter. The more you see it, the more you realize that there is a time for laughing and a time for being serious. And there is no way you can laugh with carefree nature when you’ve had to deal with as many deaths, as many examples of the horror humans inflict upon one another as he has.

I offered an ear, and one of my own shoulders (certainly not broad like his) to lean upon because everyone needs a place to lean or rest now and then. Life and the search for justice has a way of taking things from you, like carefree laughter and a sense of lightness in life.

And I realized that who I was across the other side of the ocean is so different in some ways than whom I am today. But somewhere now and then that younger me pops out as if to say there is something back there that’s important too. It isn’t so much the boy with the chocolate, laughing eyes or his broad shoulders. It isn’t his jeep that never seemed to be washed. It was those moments. When you could just throw your head back and laugh because the most serious thing that was going to happen was missing a grade, nothing more.

Undone Ties

Have you ever been utterly undone by the most ordinary of things without a graceful way to recover? Or perhaps not recover at all? Or is that just me?

After yet another stress fracture, my doctor decided we should check my bone density more closely among other things. I was thinking he would just put my foot in a cast and send me on my merry way, but that would be too easy. Too straight forward. So he sent off for a radioactive dye injection and scan test.

Now I am okay with needles. Heck I give myself needles all the time and have blood drawn on a regular basis. So this should be easy as pie right? What should make it even easier is the realization that I’ve had this test done before, many years ago. Nothing to worry about. A small injection, a wait time followed by a scan and you are on your way.

Except for some reason this was anything but simple. I signed papers accepting the risk of the radioactive dye. I was injected and found a place to wait for the required time to come back. Even made it back without issue. Yep so far nothing is undone.

I don’t remember this part of the process from before, but this time I was handed one of those hospital gowns because “no metal” is allowed in the scanner. I was sent off to the world’s smallest change area and given five seconds to get out of the street clothes and into the dreaded gown. Okay it wasn’t five seconds, it seemed that way though. And that my friends was the beginning of my undoing right there, just that thin, flimsy piece of material.

For some reason I struggle to get out of my shirt and bra when any other time there are no issues. My arms get stuck at odd angles or trapped in the sleeves in an awkward way. By the time I get that sorted out there are ties to try to line up and get done up so I’m not showing more than I want because there are sick people present and there is no need to make anyone feel any more sick than they already do.

Ties done up, pants off and then I remember I have a necklace to remove. Which somehow makes those pesky ties untie themselves like magic. And by the time I get them tied back up I’m a sweaty mess of “I don’t want to be here anymore” and planning to just throw in the towel and say forget it. Except there is a technician waiting for me.

Actually by this point the technician is waiting for me right outside that cubical, asking if I require assistance. Which of course I do, but I’m not about to admit I’m having a tie issue so I just muddle through and try to whip back the curtain with a flourish, but instead trip myself up. And you just know those pesky ties won’t stay put until I make it to the scanning machine, not a chance. The pleasant tech simply hands me another gown to use as a robe and we get on with the scanning because by now it’s taken longer than anticipated and I’m pretty sure there is a one way mirror somewhere with half the medical staff having a good chuckle at my struggles.

Scan complete and I get to make my way back to the safety of clothes. Real clothes, my own even, but the damage is done. There is no way to pull out of this with dignity or anything and I can’t even begin to explain how my normal flat hair is now standing out on end like some sort of prickly weed.

So I toss everything on and leave in a hurry only to discover in the elevator that in my haste I failed to actually zip my pants up, one pant leg is rolled up for some reason and to top it all off I put on my shirt backwards. But hey at least someone got a laugh out of it!  Now I will need to find another medical testing place to lose my dignity in.

The Fleetingness Of Youth or Teased Excitement Of Sorts

We had a tiny moment of excitement the other day. Okay the excitement was rather large, but the moment was very, very small. You see we had bought a couple of lottery tickets. On a whim no less. The way you do sometimes when your mind decides that the math isn’t worth figuring out the odds, and you just go ahead and a ticket or two anyway. Maybe they were bought with the faint hope of the dream; the what if followed by the then what happens kind of dream.

Anyway the tickets were bought and tucked away for safe keeping. Someplace where they wouldn’t be forgotten easily found when it came time to check the tickets. Of course when the time came neither of us could remember exactly where that safe place was. (So if you need someone to find a really good hiding spot in your house, just ask us, we will come over and hide something for you. We are totally free to set up Easter egg hunts too, heck we haven’t found the ones we put around the house last year!) But Beloved was sure he had memorized the numbers on those tickets safely tucked away somewhere. So he went off of memory, which was, up until this point, no something I would have doubted much.

And so there it was friends, as he recalled the numbers and tried to mentally match those tickets with what he read were the winning numbers, he was positive the hazy dream of a different future was going to come true for us. He yelled, he danced a small jig and then after announcing that we had a winning ticket, he proceeded to ask “or was it a 9 and not a 4”. And thus the dream froze, hanging oddly in mid-air not sure if it would float or crash hard down to the ground.

While he was dancing, he found the tickets. Actually he moved a magazine that was placed onto of the tickets, had that moment of asking the question and then decided to just check the physical tickets. And thus did our dream cease to hang in mid-air. Instead in plummeted with amazing speed until it hit the ground and kept going, down further and further with each number he read. He had not only missed one number friend he was wrong on a few.

And that’s the day youth not only passed us by, it laughed as it zipped off to some place fun. Some place it could remember. Some place I’m pretty sure we have been before, but it’s a bit fuzzy to recall right now.

Feet Ahead On The Assembly Line Of Meals

A full day of listening to Etta James while creating and experimenting in the kitchen resulted in aching feet and legs.  Aching from standing too long on the hard kitchen floor while ingredients were prepared for multiple meals, cooking devices sorted out and food mixed together.

I tend to underestimate how long it takes me to do the preparation as well as how long I will be standing while cutting and chopping, stirring and folding.  And each time I get it into my head that assembly line cooking will work for a week’s worth of lunches for work is a good idea, I forget how long it takes.  That’s why I always add the week’s evening meal preparation work to the lunch meals.  Why not indeed.

The end result is aching feet and legs, drained energy and a vow to never do this again.  Until the next week or so when clearly I’m buoyed by energy which helps me forget why this isn’t a good idea.  So out comes the ideas, books and paper to write out my list.

Energized by coffee, I hop in the vehicle, head off to the store where I buy what’s on my list, recklessly eyeball produce that I’ve never tried before.  This is followed by a short debate of which one ends up in my cart, and once that has taken place I head to the checkout.

Once home with my purchases I commence sorting and setting out everything for assembly line cooking.  Oreo is sorted and completed based on ease and like, followed by cooking and cooling and then packaging.  While cooking is taking place dishes need doing and evening meal preparation just be completed with everything labeled so that after a day at work it’s easy as pie to pull together and enjoy.

The price to pay for all this is a small amount if aches and pains, but trust me it’s worth it.  Especially when lupus flares start up again.  Because in some cases I can just pull stuff out of he freezer and defrost or just have to cook the already prepared ingredients.   Now if only my feet agreed it!

Behind Any Great Shelf or The Horror In My Pantry

I am, evidently, deathly afraid of my pantry.  Not in terms of being afraid of walking past the pantry, I can do tha fairly easily.  Entering, however, is a whole other story.  You see somewhere in the back wall of the pantry lives a monster.  A monster who likes to push cans off the shelves and onto my toes.  A monster who uses onions for bowling balls. But my pantry monster is not only capable of pushing items off the shelves and onto my unprotected and unsuspecting toes.  Oh no, that’s too easy.

This monster is capable of making things reproduce.  Or perhaps the monster sneaks out now and then and acquires items to bring back into my pantry.  He hides his prizes in and amongst the other items already in the pantry, creating the perfect balance of tumbling cans and such. At least that’s what I’d like to believe.

The truth is far less fun and fantastical.  The truth is, sometimes I forget what’s already in the pantry and go out and buy another package of something.  Then there are the times I don’t go out and buy items, but rather Beloved does the shopping and sometimes he buys stuff we already have.  And so the shelves have doubles and triples of some things and odds of others that we had the intention to use, but then lost the motivation, or in my case lost the energy.  So they sit there, waiting on the overfilled shelves.  Waiting for the perfect moment to land on an unsuspecting foot, or perhaps to be used. But I’d like to think  that there is a somewhat helpful and mischievous monster hiding behind the shelf, because that’s just more fun!

Rambling Along And That’s Okay

The four-footed one loves nothing more than to head out for a ramble, set for whatever adventure should come her way.  The less planned, the better as far as she is concerned. Because if it isn’t planned she probably doesn’t have her fun and adventures cut short. For the most part I’m rather inclined to just ramble with her, going wherever the whim takes us.

It seems these days I’m not just rambling with my four-footed companion either.  I feel as if I am rambling most times when it comes to time spent with one of my specialists.  He means well and he is very good from a medical aspect.  It seems he assumes I understand what he is thinking when it comes to my treatment.  It also seems that he forgets I lack a medical degree and the same experience that he has.

So I go into these visits with a plan of what I want to ask or discuss, but frankly I walk out of them sometimes wondering what the heck we even discussed or how we got to where we did.  I’m not sure if I get lost in the tangle of confusion from whole concepts that weren’t discussed, but assumed to have been or if I just get too tired trying to keep up.

I’d leave a trail of breadcrumbs, but I’m not sure I’d bring enough or be able to find them after our time was up.  So we just ramble along, or rather I do.  Because he is helping manage my lupus rather well.  And because rambling is what I can do right now.

Gauging It

My car has a variety of gauges in it. I have one gauge that tells me how fast I am going, another for the temperature of my oil and still another to let me know how much force I am applying to my gas pedal at all times if I choose to watch it. I have gauges that show me where my fuel level is currently and another that for controlling the temperature zones. There are days that I wonder if I should be watching the gauges more closely because they all must have very important information on them. Information that I might need if I choose to watch them. For the record I don’t, because I am watching the road, although I’ve been known to glance at them now and then.

It’s a shame my body doesn’t have the same type of gauges that can be read by my doctors. Sure they can draw blood to find some information, but when they ask me how I’m doing I usually mumble “fine” or “oh a little rough today”. If I had a gauge they wouldn’t have to ask these questions, they could simply read my pain gauge and would know that “fine” means the pain and stiffness are worse because of the weather. Another gauge would no doubt let them know the levels of medication in my system and they’d be able to see that some pills I forget to take more than others.

But I don’t have gauges like this for my doctors to read and get a quantitative read-out rather than having to sift through what does “fine’ mean for me as a patient versus the doctor’s definition of fine. When I say I having a lot of pain and I’m asked to rate it on a pain-scale, it still leaves my doctor guessing to some degree. If I had a pain-level gauge that has been calibrated the same as the doctor’s, then there would be no j. For now though, there is. There is guess work in what does my “fine” mean, and when I say my pain is at a level “2” they’d know that according to the medical scale it’s more likely to be a 6 but I don’t want to seem to be complaining or seeking drugs etc.

The fact is, it has taken a lot of working together for my medical team and I to understand each other and be open with each other. I’m still working on some of the open stuff because I fear being seen as complaining, faking and so on. Thankfully I have doctors and nurses who will notice the stiffness that I failed to mention and still provide treatment for it. Because I didn’t come with gauges, my medical team has come to learn my body language may not come close to what my verbal language is saying and they are now able to read my body language as well as hear what I am saying to get a full picture. And I can trust them to provide me with the care I need, even if I can’t say it.