Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Disappointment--Digging Deeper

If you've followed our story in the past few months, you know we're well into the long haul by now. This all started with one minor trip and fall last October. In the following months, that fall led to the equivalent of a landslide of injury and disappointment. Last week, in spite of our hopes and prayers for good news, for an upturn toward recovery, we were disappointed again.

Not that we had any great expectation of John actually walking out of the doctor's office. As we sat in the waiting room, a young woman, obviously a patient who had cleared that final hurdle, bolted from the examination area and ran toward the elevator. Her joy was a sight to behold, barely contained as she danced in place with a thousand megawatt smile on her face. Every person in that waiting room, many from wheelchairs or clutching walkers or canes, shared in her celebration of the simple freedom to move without assistance or pain. As the moment passed, John turned to me and said "I don't expect I'll be doing that today."

Still, we had hoped for a crumb. Just bearing weight on that beleaguered leg would have sent us home with something to work on. New exercises, a change in regimen, maybe an order for physical therapy. It was not to be. The Xrays revealed a fuzzy spec at one corner of the fracture, which the doctor described as an attempt at healing. Eight more weeks of assisted transfers and the wheelchair. That will take us to the first anniversary of this new normal. A sobering thought.

It takes a bit, after that kind of news, to look beyond, to find another hope to grab onto, to dig deeper and resolve to keep climbing. As we started the three hour drive home, we began to cautiously voice our thoughts of "what now."

The mutual conclusion was that life must go on. We can't afford to spend any more idle time waiting for things to change. This is what we have now, for we know not how long. "What now" is whatever we try to make it.

The first thing both of us decided was that no matter the condition of his leg, John can still sing. He's
been singing all his life in choirs, choruses, and on the musical theater stage. He's been a very active member of a local choral group for most of our years in Kansas. It's going to take more than this to sideline him now. Music is for John a lifelong passion. He has a masters and a PhD to prove it. But more than that, he has a head and heart filled with song. On our wall hangs a plaque which reads "Music is the "temple" (in Hebrew) of the mind." It was inspired by a dream he had and says everything about the nature of this man, what moves and sustains him. So he will sing.

We moved on to other possibilities. A Bible study group meeting one afternoon a week at the church is certainly doable. The church choir is too. Evening strolls when the weather cools down a bit, maybe a restaurant meal now and then.

One of our major limitations is really mine. That wheelchair is heavy and I'm not a big, strong person. I'm a small, aging woman with a chronic bad back and arthritis. I spent some time working with the #@%! thing, trying to find a better way. And I did! No longer stowed in the trunk of the car, it now rides in the back seat behind me. There are scant fractions of inches to spare, but nonetheless, it fits! Much easier than hefting it up to the trunk and after several attempts, I even found a way to make it do most of the work itself. Mind over matter, a little engineering finesse, and those heavy wheels are more help than hindrance. Never underestimate the creativity of a small, stubborn woman.

Are we still disappointed? Of course we are. But after the initial blow, what is there to do but take a breath, say a prayer, and dig a little deeper? John will sing. I will write. We'll live the best life we can and keep hoping for the day when things are easier. He may never "run to the elevator," but, one way or another, we'll keep trying to get where we're meant to go.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

That Was the Week That Was--

Busy week? Mine too! So if you haven't had a chance to stop in here, I totally understand!

The thing about my blog you've probably noticed is it's kind of all over the place. You might wonder why I don't pick one thing from my life to focus on and push the other stuff aside, or to another blog maybe. But the truth is this blog is about me, my life since I found myself "Lost in the Plains." So everything from gardening to writing to just living life as it comes is just one topic.

This week I posted an update on our personal journey titled Fearsome Hope. 


And of course there's another installment of All That Glitters, the romantic serial I'm so thrilled you're all following!


Thanks so much for stopping in! And please, if you're so inclined, leave a comment about the post, or about whatever's on your mind, for that matter. I love seeing your messages here!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fearsome Hope--An update from the homefront

hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation

How many times we say "I just hope. . .". That's all. We hope. It isn't within our power to achieve the desired goal on our own. We just hope it will come to be.

"I just hope they can tell me why."

"I just hope I can start to bear weight again."

"I just hope I'll be able to walk, even just a wobbly walk."

We go back to the doctors next week. The answers to the questions may be closer. Or may not be. We both know that, but for John, anticipating seems to make the endless waiting easier. I'm inclined to focus on what I need to do to get through each day, and there's plenty of that. For my husband, confined to the house, the chair, unable to move without me at his side, there's a lot of time for "cherishing" those desires.

Early next week we'll see the spinal specialist to "discuss" test results. An answer to "why" the normal mechanics of walking failed seems most important to John, but the "here's what we can do about it" is what I'm most anxious about. Not that I wouldn't welcome an easy fix, but those are not common when it comes to spinal issues. I know. I've been dealing with those issues since my 20's and none of the answers were easy or completely fixed the problem. We both agree that surgery is not an option now. There's the little matter of the second surgery on his leg still to be faced. But the prospect of an answer to what led to this situation--"I just hope they can tell me why"--seems to be the cherished desire for John.

Later in the week we go back to Kansas City to see the surgeon. And the X-rays. Will there be evidence of healing? Enough to allow weight-bearing on the leg? Will we start physical therapy to learn to walk again? Or. . .the alternative doesn't bear putting into words.

Hope is most often pictured as bright and shining, a beacon lighting the way, a warm comfort. But it's a fearsome hope that drives us right now. I hear beneath John's simply expressed hopes how disappointed he'll be if none of them are met. For two months he's been unable to move even a few feet without assistance.  The thought of putting both feet on the floor, of taking a step, even leaning on a walker, has to seem like the finest freedom. I hope for the same, and yet I'm forced to be the voice of caution. I remind him that what's ultimately most important is healing. If that takes longer, we'll give it longer. I don't voice my fears, because I know they're his as well.

Hope sustains, but reason, reality, and fear hover in the wings. When the surgeon sat with me in the waiting room and described his findings after the surgery, he also told me how sorry he was this had happened to us. That sincere sentiment, coming from a clinician and a stranger, opened my eyes to exactly what we were facing. In that moment, faith stepped in for hope, reminding me that even if reality falls short of "cherished desires," we are not alone and will be provided with whatever we need to see us forward.  We hope for the best possible outcome. I prepare to deal with whatever else may come, not because I lack faith, but because I am sustained by it.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This Just In. . .

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What You Missed This Week on the Blog--Old House Pics and ATG Part Four

In case your week was like some we've all known--


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This Old House--Remember that dining room?

Some of you may have been around when I was posting about the progress (word used optimistically by old house renovators) on my dining room.  My son had done an amazing job knocking out the major heavy stuff--new entry door, refinished floors, a tin-look ceiling, etc. The finish work was left to me, and I wasn't quite so amazing. Paint cans required dusting more than once, as did the displaced furniture and boxes of stuff packed in the spare room and on the back porch and in every other corner I could find. Life was coming at me faster than I could handle. The dining room would wait, I knew from experience.

And it did. This photo is from an October, 2014 post. Not a lot changed for longer than I care to admit. Gradually, the walls were patched and primed. The trim was prepped--a never-ending and thankless task, as anyone with "charming, antique moldings" is well aware. Painting goes fairly quickly once all that patching and sanding and filling was finished, but by the time it was done, so was I.

I've learned to accept that with age comes the need to space the big jobs with plenty of time to recover. I decided to just enjoy the nice, clean, empty room for a bit. Meanwhile, John's health issues were heating up and I didn't have time to worry about upholstery or window treatments.

Some time late in the spring, a year after the construction dust had settled, things finally came together. I cut back my hours at work to be with John more, so I had plenty of time and a persistently nagging guilt over this job put off for so long. I can't even remember just what happened when, but the room was finally finished right before the "big fall" that changed our lives so dramatically. Needless to say, taking pictures and posting about it here were not a priority after that.

Given all the hard work that went into this room, especially that done by my son, it seems only right to trot the finished product out for all to see. We're really enjoying the room more than I expected to. We take our meals here, since the kitchen table won't accommodate a wheelchair. And my writing corner has been moved here as well, so I can be close at hand and still try to get some work done. Instead of a seldom utilized room we previously merely passed through countless times a day, the dining room has become a vital part of our lives.

This is where we started, and stayed, for a very, very long time!
This is where we are now. Come on in!
This room is home to many of our collections of STUFF, all previously owned with lots of sentimental value. The photos are of women in our families, all taken between 1900 and 1940. The items on the shelves change as the spirit moves me. There's plenty more where that came from!

The sideboard is not a family heirloom but is one of my favorite things. The plates are part of a large set handed down to John from his grandmother.
My mother's dining table, my great grandmother's rocker. I especially wanted a spot by the window overlooking the patio garden to sit and read. (I plan to find the time to do that someday!)
My new writing spot. The desk was a dressing table belonging to John's mother. The window seat, built from an old door original to the house, is Raleigh's favorite place to chill. 

So there you have it. An old house like this one provides an endless supply of projects. It feels really good when one of them is finished. After a long rest, I'll find something else to tackle, I'm sure. But for now, we're planning to thoroughly enjoy this room!