A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
It's not the end of the world, just the end of the year. Still, while I hadn't planned to put on stilettos and silks to dance the year away, neither had I planned to spend the evening in flannel jammies, ice on my ankle instead of in a toasting drink.
It has been one of those days.
I awoke with a wicked cold, hoarse and coughing. Exhausted by 4 pm, I left work early to discover that I'd left my car lights on. The battery was dead. Mary Jane thought she had jumper cables. We went back to the car to check. On the way, I fell off the curb for no particular reason and sprained my ankle.
Triple A came to the car's rescue in blessedly short order, and I finally made it home in time to feel sorry for myself as the kids prepared to celebrate the New Year. I asked George to get Chinese food from Happy Wok on 124th near North--the restaurant that never closes--before he left.
It was closed.
Even so, today was better than the ones before it.
I'd gone to Oshkosh to help my mother move from independent apartments to assisted living. The new place, across the street from the old, is more beautiful, and she knows people there. For a gregarious woman, that's an important "amenity." But each day, she grew more fretful and agitated. It's change, we told her and each other. All the commotion and packing. People regress a little and then adjust. It will be better: you'll see.
She didn't, so she sent me to Walgreens for small cans of peaches. For reasons that will remain a mystery, a can of cold peaches in the back of the refrigerator makes Mom feel safe.
By Sunday morning, Mom was completely disoriented and then lethargic. She began to hallucinate.
We took her to the Mercy Hospital emergency room just before the start of the Packer game rush. You'd think people would stay home until the game is over, but my sister, who happens to work in that very ER, says the opposite is true. We slipped into the ortho room, the only one open, just before the man with the bad tooth, the pregnant woman with trouble breathing, and the prisoner in irons showed up.
If you are looking for a hospital horror story, you won't find it here. Everyone from the admitting clerk to the med techs and the hospitalist was superb. And as quickly as such things can happen, we found that Mom had an occult infection (location and cause still unknown) and electrolytes and medicine levels out of whack. Throw in a touch of congestive heart failure and you have the recipe for delerium.
Once she was admitted and in good hands, I headed home to see my kids. How beautiful it is here! The flocked trees we have in Tosa don't extend much north of Mequon.
Today was back to work and the welcome relief of small and solvable problems. A large dark coffee from Bruegger's Bagels kept me awake enough for that.
The news from Oshkosh today was more good than bad. While the hallucinations continued, most were of a rather pleasing variety. Nice music, a room with 15 antique chairs, and her great-grandchildren playing hide and seek under her hospital bed. The boat ride with the chairs was scary, though, and so was the knowledge that what Mom saw and heard wasn't really there.
Thanks to intravenous fluids, she is enough herself to make jokes and understand what is happening. This evening, she began nagging my sister for rollers: she can't be seen in public with her hair so flat. And her face, still unlined at 86, is serene again, not twisted tight in fear, Karen assures me. She's sharing cookies with the great-grandbabies, who really are there.
"They gave me fruit salad," she told me of her dinner, "and it was delicious. Marshmallows in it, and peaches!"
We don't know what all this means yet. But we are grateful for the blessing of this small miracle and what moments we have right now, this year and as long as they will go into the next.
I'm going to renew the ice bag and go to bed. After all, it's nearly 9.
May the lessons of love from the old year carry over into the new. To be ready for the hard days, you might want to keep a can of peaches chilling in back of the fridge. Even if you don't want to eat them, in a pinch you can use the can to reduce swelling. . .