Tag Archives: Health

Only Child explores senior living past and present

Only Child and Mom mid 1960s

My late mother had a saying – “you can’t win no how.” Which sounds negative, but when you look at how people’s lives pan out, Mom maybe had a point. Especially as her life was cut short  by a brain aneurysm at age 63. She was also somewhat crippled by arthritis and scleroderma. All this happened after my dad died of cancer at 66.

Perhaps I should consider her somewhat lucky that she didn’t live longer to have to deal with more bad things happening in her life. At the time of her death she and I shared an apartment. However, I was engaged and the wedding ceremony and reception were already booked – the latter by Mom herself. She was scared to live alone and pondered whether she should spend six months (late spring to early fall) annually at her younger sister’s on the farm. Maybe not a good choice as Mom fell on the doorstep outside my aunt’s farmhouse. This was a new house and these entrance steps numbered two.  It was the damn arthritis.

The damn arthritis really was what killed her. It made her fall off the vanity dresser chair  (in her bedroom) onto the wooden floor and bang her head. She got headaches but thought they were because of her eyes – maybe new glasses – and she had an ophthalmologist’s appointment in mid-September.

She went into a coma overnight the end of July and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite surgery, she never woke up and died five days later.

When I look at my life compared to hers, I begin to wonder. First, about her saying “You can’t win no how.”

I certainly am not going through my senior years without a fight despite my health issues of diminishing eyesight in my left eye and getting worse, a digestive disorder, living on low income, and  having to deal with more problems than well – let’s just say that the phrase about God not giving anyone any more crosses than they can bear is a myth.

As a child,  I was meek, mild and shy  and didn’t really get my courage legs until in my 30s. My writing and being a single parent then forced me to change. It grew gradually. But I have one trait ,which I think comes from my Dad – I am a stubborn senior and God or somebody help those who make my life miserable. On the other hand those who are good to me and help and treat me well, I try to do the same for and to them. “Do onto others as they do onto you” is more my saying than “you can’t win no how.”

Perhaps besides the stubborneess, my saving graces are my writing, my garden, my son and his girlfriend, my cousins,  close friends, reading (despite the bad eye) and even watching favourite TV shows, and walking. A keen interest in life and a desire to see justice done doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if I could just find time to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What is your story – along these lines?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

My son, Martin, me, and Juni by my garden

 

 

 

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Filed under Arthritis, Assertiveness, Health, Mother, Only child, Seniors

Only Child Coping with Daddy’s Cancer

Children can be more resilient and creative than adults think or maybe even the child herself. When my dad had cancer it was devastating. I was almost 10 years old when the first cancer episode happened – Daddy was diagnosed with cancer in one of his lungs. An operation to remove half the lung was supposed to stop the cancer.

It did in the lung. Two years later it had spread to his brain. He had horrible continuous headaches and was constantly vomiting. In those days (early 1960s) the only other cancer “treatment” was burn, i.e., radiation. And so my Dad back in the hospital had radiation on his brain. He wasn’t expected to live. Mom and I grew closer and one of her older sisters came to stay to “help” us out. She meant well, but wasn’t the best help to be around. However, after  some weeks the radiation seemed to work and Daddy returned home. My aunt also returned to her home. Now Mom and I had to get used to Daddy being back home and back to work and get back into the routine.

It was then that I got the idea to teach Mom to play the piano. But I never connected it to dealing with Dad and his cancer until a few years ago. So I wrote a story about this called “Don’t Look Down”. After rewriting and rewriting and after a few rejections from submitting it and more rewriting and rewriting, I submitted it again last year to The Smart Set, an online only magazine published by Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was published January 17, 2019 (and for writers reading this post, yes I did get paid. The copyright also now reverts to me at this time, as long as I state where it was first published and when, which I just did).

The story begins like this:

“Don’t Look Down

Coping and communicating through music

By

There we sat, Mom and I, side by side on the piano bench. A mirror on the panel above the keyboard reflected our fingers, perched to perform. Deadly piano-playing duo? Not quite. You see, I had decided to teach Mom to play the piano. She was in her mid-50s; I was 13.

Perhaps a grade eight history-teaching project had infected me with the teaching bug. More likely it was connected to Dad’s second bout with cancer. At the hospital, the radiation had zapped his tumor. Now he was back home and had returned to work, but Mom and I were left with the aftermath of his life/death ordeal. We needed a diversion to keep us sane in this sudden change to supposedly safe routine. Besides, my music credentials were impeccable — five years of learning Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin on our pink Roxatone-coated piano.”

You can go to The Smart Set for the full Don’t Look Down story

When you were a child did you use your creativity to cope with a horrific experience?

 

Still have the piano today. It really is pink.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Cancer Treatment, Dad, Health, Mom and Dad, Only child, Piano

Only Child on Losing a Parent to Cancer

Sharon at 13 with Mom and Dad

When your mother or father is terminally ill and dies when you are still a child, you lose a part of your life, but more importantly you lose a part of yourself. Your mother or your father is no longer there and the hole that was once him or her follows you around like a bad omen.

Especially if you are an only child like me. Yes, I know, I’m a senior now, but that happened to me when I was growing up. Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 58 and I wasn’t quite 10. That was back in the late 1950s when the treatment options for cancer were limited to cut and burn. The link between smoking and cancer was known then, but a lot of it was hidden from public view. Tobacco companies were keeping their mouths shut about it. Here is a much later than 1950s study that covers that issue.

Dad had half a lung removed for the cancer. But that wasn’t the end of it. Two years later cancer spread to his brain and he had to cope with that for four more years. So did Mom and me. I inadvertently found a unique way for Mom and me to do so. But it wasn’t until later years when I was around Dad’s age of death , that I realized what Mom and I were doing back then. What had been foremost in my mind after Dad’s cancer returned was me pulling away from him emotionally because I was afraid he would die. Deep down that was probably something I knew. It scared me and as a pre-teen and teenager that was how I coped. I am not proud of this.

I wrote a personal essay about Dad’s cancer and something Mom and I were doing at the same time after he returned home from his second stay in hospital. The memoir piece was just published in the online magazine The Smart Set which is a publication of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Perhaps what Mom and I were doing did help, maybe even my Dad. We don’t always know or realize these things at the time.

Here is the link to “Don’t Look Down” in The Smart Set Magazine.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s Dad when younger

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Filed under 1950s, Albert Langevin, cancer, Death and Dying, Health, Mom and Dad, Piano

Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

Pondering sleep and sleep deprivation

When I was a child, when I was a teenager, I slept at nights. Lots of sleep. When I was in my late 40s I would kill to get my sleep – anyone and anything that got in my way risked my wrath. Now in my senior years, I ask “What sleep?” If I am lucky I get  6 hours sleep and that’s counting the half hour or so when I fall asleep during the 11 p.m news on TV. I’m not sleeping in though; I keep to about the same time to get up each day – 7.45 a.m. even on weekends, but with it being gardening season and the light of day coming very early, I would like to get up and into the garden much earlier than I do.

And that might be my cue as to something is off. I’m trying to do too much – evenings, yes I sometime watch some TV, besides the aforementioned news. But not until I do some more gardening, weather permitting and I’m not out somewhere. No matter what, I have way too much to do and often some of that comes to mind after the news and so off I go, despite trying hard to get to bed somewhat earlier than 1.30 a.m. or 2 a.m.

Carrying around in  my mind all the guilt of stuff not done, particularly phone calls to friends I didn’t have time to make, doesn’t help. I don’t have time to call them until the gardening is done, so right now that could be 9.30 p.m. as that’s when it gets dark. If I’m out at an event, forget it. One friend has said to call her but she doesn’t do late evening phone calls as she goes to bed. That was a message on my voice mail when she tried to call me and I was out at an event. Not sure what late means – after 10 p.m.? After 9 p.m.? Unless it is an emergency I don’t call friends or family after 9.45 p.m. Fortunately two of my friends are night owls like me.

Is this another health bane of being a senior? Hey, I’m running out of fingers to count all the medical crap I have to deal with as a senior.

So, I decided to put on the hat of my former profession – journalist – and do some research about sleep deprivation online. Here is some of iowhat I found:

If you go here you will find an interesting article covering many aspects of sleep deprivation, including summarizing some studies, how much sleep is necessary, and the effects of sleep deprivation. I have some of the latter, most notably: irritability (well, more than usual), immune system dysfunction (not good for someone who already has a compromised immune system), forgetfullness (mainly if I did something – although I don’t forget what I have to still do, but often forget where something got put. My mind hits a blank here). Yes, it affects my cognitive abilities and I seem to he slower doing things than my usual  modus operandi. The worse things were sleep depreviation could cause cancer and death.  I know we all got to die sometime but not yet please, and do I really want to drag cancer into it?

And look at my language “drag”.

So, I am now going to  make a bigger effort to get body and mind into bed earlier. Yes, I’ll still watch the news and weather report. But the TV goes off, right after that half hour. And before the 11 p.m. news, maybe even before 10 p.m. all the housework shit I have to do for the evening (gardening is never under that category) has to be done. And any phone calls – if I have time to make them.

I am also purging my “to do” lists of stuff and people who steal my time – some will be just on the back burner until next month; some permanently out the door. I am also learning (slowly) to pace myself with what I do – although I still get upset if something takes way too much longer than expected – no matter what the cause.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Why or Why not?

 

Time to get more sleep

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

Only Child needs a time management boost

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

My late father used to sit at the kitchen table and re-set his watch based on the wall clock above the table. At dinner time. It annoyed my mom no end. But Dad was timekeeper for CN Railways (then CNR), so what did Mom or I expect?

I’ve inherited Dad’s penchant for keeping track of time and the related getting things done. Dad may have been better at it than me, and I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping the watch regulated – at least for me.

Despite going through the annual goals, etc. list (including purging unnecessary tasks, etc.), I am still in a big stage of overwhelm and spending too much time doing what isn’t a priority for me. Lots more has to be deleted from what I do and lots more has to be shoved onto the back burner, some maybe indefinitely and then eventually scrapped when I can stop holding onto them and let them go.

And letting go of the guilt that goes with dumping things you do, and even people, from your life. The latter sounds harsh, but I have had to evaluate who in my life I need to well, dump. This includes the obvious people I don’t like and/or we have nothing in common.

But I also have to consider where our values don’t jive. For example, being a responsible person and keeping promises is very important to me. So is being decisive. Here, I’m talking about something as simple as two friends deciding to meet at a specific event at a specific time, and one waffles either about if she will get there as she has so much else to do – or promising she will meet there and then she never shows up and I don’t get a phone call about it.

This the modus operandi of one of my so-called friends. There was even another friend involved for one event. Friend No. 2 and I were to meet the irresponsible one at at the annual Zoomer’s Show. The two of us waited and waited outside the show area for ages and guess who never showed up. At least we were waiting inside.

Let’s face it – stuff happens beyond our control. High on the list are getting sick and bad weather. But these are exceptions.

Also on my list is something that is harder to deal with but is a big time waster – problems that come from outside me and yes,  outside my friends and my relationship. Problems from utilities, governments and insurance companies. In most cases, they have caused the problem but I’m stuck with trying to get it straightened out. I can’t exactly cancel using the utility, or not pay my taxes, etc. Unfortunately, these things take time, my time.

And I resent it.

So, I’m going through my goals and the like again and weeding out more.

My health depends on it.

And dealing with health issues is another time-waster. However,  I have taken the recourse of doing what I have to do for my health – but if it is beyond what normal healthy people do for their health, then I do it when it is convenient for me. At least that’s what I’ve been trying out the past few months. Yes, sometimes I forget the damn eye drops, but you know, if it was safe to put one type of eye drop (three prescriptions although two are together), right after the other instead of waiting five or 10 minutes for the second drop, it would help. I don’t have time to stand around for five or ten minutes, so I go on to something else.

Then, forgot to put in the damn eye drops.

And don’t get me into wasting a half day at the ophthalmologist’s – two and a half hours minimum  in the waiting room. I have politely spoken to her about it, even suggested she hire another ophthalmologist, but that didn’t sit too well with her.

Do any of you have any ideas on time management? How do you manage your time in your daily living?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child – Waiting for God(ot)

When I was a child (back in the 1950s and early 1960s – the grey ages) the family doctor made house calls. Made sense if you were too ill to go into the doctor’s office, but not yet emergency for the hospital. Today for the most part you have to sit around in the waiting room, waiting for God(ot), the doctor, to call you in. This waiting around business extends to (and more so) appointments with medical specialists of all ilk. You not only wait months to get an appointment. And God (the real God) forbid that you might have something serious that should be looked at right away.

Yesterday I had my twice-a-year warming a seat for close to two hours in my ophthalmologist’s office. The room was full, stuffy and it gave me a headache.

Some of the other patients  were waiting for God(ot) for a long time too. Some of us started to talk, comparing stories with each other. Two of them, after they finally got in, had to come back out and sit some more while their eye drops simmered so they could get the tests done.

I was lucky here – eye drops were put in to check the pressure behind my eyes. But no sitting around for that. In fact, my appointment wasn’t for a long time and the outcome was good – thanks to the triple prescriptions of eye drops in my left eye, that eye tied with my good right eye with a pressure of 16 – which is in the normal range. That’s good; otherwise the left eye could go blind.

My eye specialist is good at what she does. She is also friendly, helpful, and answers your questions,

So I plunged right in with the waiting room syndrome.

“Maybe you need a partner here,” I said.

She wasn’t offended. She explained that basically it was easier said than done. Any doctor could open his or her own office and make more money than she could pay them. She also seemed to go off on a tangent with the issue of doctors always want and need their residency time in hospitals. Not sure if she meant all categories of doctors. And the Ontario government needs to make changes in the system to allow more ophthalmologists to practice in Ontario, Canada, she added.

Passing the buck?

She may be working within a not-so-good system. But I think her office administration needs an overhaul. The secretary is just booking in too many people each day. I did talk to her a bit when I came in and asked about how long I would have to wait. Then she got into depending on how long they are in the doctor’s office, if any emergency people come in.

All that does have to be considered. But shouldn’t that be factored in when booking people’s appointments?

Or maybe the good doctor will have to do like my regular eye doctor – the optometrist does. He works part of the day on Saturdays.

And maybe the secretary is pacing the appointments better. None of us there booking our six months in the future appointments could get one before May 2018. That’s eight months, not six months, from now.

This is just one example of waiting for God(ot). Specialists for arthritis, cancer, heart have the same situation.

Who and what are to blame?

What do you think?

What is your personal waiting experience with your family doctor and any medical  specialist you have had to go to?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

And in case you wonder, I’m only posting to this Only Child Writes blog every two weeks. Still on Tuesdays. Because I  have another mystery novel in my Beyond series coming out this October – Beyond Faith – and all the promotion for that takes a lot of time. But you can check out my author blog which talks about that and fiction writing. I post to it every Thursday. Here’s the Sharon A. Crawford author blog.

It also give you a peek at the cover.

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, God, Health, Life demands, Only child, Time management

Only Child says overwhelm causes forgetfulness

The look of Only Child in overwhelm

For just over a week I lived in overwhelm. I knew I had too much on my plate and started a “program” featuring the three D’s – do, delay and dump. The idea was to decide what was  most important in my life, what wasn’t important, and what was stealing my time. And as I found out stealing my mind. The number of items that disappeared in my personal black hole increased. Some have surfaced; some have not. It reminds me a bit of when my mother, when in her late 50’s she took bacon instead of steak out of the freezer for our supper. I, then in my late teens discovered the mistake long before the meat had thawed. Not exactly losing or misplacing items, but close.

My mother was having a hard time dealing with living life without my dad who had died a few years earlier and her escalating arthritis. So she had loss, grief and health. Money was not an issue

My misplaced items signify more and some are different. For example, I wanted to wear a specific sleeveless black T-shirt which I had owned for many years. But I couldn’t find where it should be or where it shouldn’t be and I looked several times both in artificiahav

Nada.

Yet I was 99 per cent sure I hadn’t at any time put it in the used clothing for the Diabetes Association bag. Ever.

Something strange was going on here.

It wasn’t until I returned home after a shopping expedition to buy a replacement T-shirt ( and didn’t find anything suitable) that I found the missing T-shirt. I was still furious about it being yet another item gone missing that I meticulously checked all the places again. And I found it in one of the places where it should be, i.e., the drawer where I put items that I’ve worn once or twice but they still don’t need to be washed.

I’m sure all the fuss about finding that T-shirt has something to do with wearing something I am familiar with, especially when you consider the chaotic unpredictable world we live in.

A few other items still remain lost in inner space. One is corn cushions for the soles of my “bad” feet. I know I bought two packages at the Rexall store – two because that is the only drugstore that seems to carry the padded ones and I don’t live close to a Rexall Drug Store. I paid for two and I know that the two packages came home and that I put them in the drawer where I keep all my bad feet paraphernalia. That burns up more than my feet because it costs me, as does all the health crap I have to buy or get done for my health. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

The funniest one is when my son was helping me remotely with transferring library books in e-pub once downloaded from my computer to my Kobo. Yes, I had the Kobo all right. But I couldn’t find the short cable that connects the Kobo to my computer. I told my son that I had the charger (I finally ordered one that you can plug in your Kobo to recharge it without turning on your computer) and the cable in it, but couldn’t find the cable for the Kobo to connect it to the computer. All this while I was frantically checking through desk drawers.

“That is the cable,” my son said. At least he didn’t laugh.

I knew the cause right away for forgetting that the charger did not come with a cable.

All the while my son and I were doing the computer remote fixing, I felt like I was coasting – almost like my voice, my body and my mind were separated.

And that is the way I had been feeling for a week and a half before trying to get too many things done to meet too many deadlines, and deal with weather and possible water in the basement and one of my many health issues acting up.

Immediately after Martin and I got off the phone I started to tidy up some of my office – my desktop and the few files needed to be put away.

That only brought on more forgetfulness, misplacement of items, and anger and frustration. I couldn’t seem to find the bills I knew I had paid at the beginning of the month. Finally found them in my Problems to be Solved folder. They  weren’t the problem – they had been paid. But I discovered in my bills to be paid was an unpaid phone and Internet bill for this month.

I am never late paying that bill but the utility company moving the date due up five days didn’t help with my memory.

The problem was twofold – I had too much on my plate to do so didn’t do some of the things I regularly do – i.e. keep a budget up to date including keeping track of bills that need to be paid and paying them on time. Of course I paid the bill online right away and through my account let the utility know I had just paid it and where, so I have a numbered receipt now.

But when I did that and when I looked at my now tidy corner of the office where I work, I felt better.

Next day, which was yesterday – Monday, I still started out sluggish and feeling overwhelmed. But I was determined to plow through as much of my “to do” list for the day as I could. When I did and saw what I had accomplished, I felt even better.

Maybe taking the time to do some gardening and going for a short walk had something to do with it.

But there are still things to rein in – like email. I have to get off some of these meet-up things I’ll never go to and some of the writing groups and other interest-related stuff that just takes up my time. I need to delete some of what I do (and one I thought I had came back today and I have to deal with it. This is one where the people in charge weren’t clear about what had to be done and I’m not the only one confused here).

And then there is all the crap I have to do for my health and when I have to do it. Yes, I’m reining in that too. Doing what I have to but where I can, when I can. Not dropping everything else to spend a lot of time doing this and that. If I forget to do something for my health once, so be it.

It is like I told my friend Maggie when I finally had time to call her early Sunday evening. “I don’t even have time to call my friends.” Now, that’s sad and unacceptable.

So is not getting enough sleep at night. But the last two nights I’ve had no problem falling asleep. It’s just that I wake up two to three hours before the alarm goes off and have trouble getting  back to sleep. Or don’t get back to sleep.

The weird thing is that happened Sunday night into too early Monday morning. And Monday – yesterday – is the day I got some of my equilibrium returned. Go figure.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

How Only Child wants to be and feel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Burnout, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Memory loss, Stress, Time management, Uncategorized